World Economy

Kuwait Stock Delistings Threaten Market Status

Kuwait Stock Delistings Threaten Market StatusKuwait Stock Delistings Threaten Market Status

A rising tide of delistings from Kuwait’s stock market threatens to widen a gap with rival bourses in the region as companies favor more dynamic economies such as Saudi Arabia and Dubai to sell shares.

With a capitalization of about $88 billion, close to Dubai Financial Market at $97 billion, Kuwait has long been one of the Arab world’s major markets, Arabian Business reported.

But that status could eventually be threatened by an exodus of companies. Since the start of 2014, when Kuwait had 211 listed firms, 24 have announced plans to delist.

In the same period, the exchange decided to delist a further five firms because their shares had been suspended for too long or their accumulated losses exceeded 75% of capital. Only two new firms listed: telecommunications operator VIVA Kuwait and Mezzan Holding.

That contrasts with several other Arab markets where listings have been growing, including Saudi Arabia, up by nine to 171 since the beginning of 2014, and Dubai, where combined listings on the DFM and NASDAQ Dubai are up seven to 70.

There are several motives for delisting from Kuwait. One is weak stock prices as its economy underperforms more dynamic economies in the Persian Gulf Arab states. Kuwait’s stock index is down 24% since the start of 2014, against a 12% drop for Saudi Arabia and an 8% rise for Dubai.

Sheikh Talal Ali al-Abdullah al-Jaber al-Sabah, chief executive of Al-Nawadi Holding, which owns health centers and resorts in the region, cited that factor this month when his company said it would delist.

“The main reason for the withdrawal is the low market value of the shares–it no longer reflects the real value of the shares or the nature of the firm’s business,” he told Reuters.