Saudi Arabia relaxes limit for foreign investors

Saudi Arabia needs more foreign investment, including in healthcare, to move its economy away from oil dependency. The country has recently relaxed the 49% limit for foreign strategic investors in shares of listed companies.

Saudi Arabia has relaxed a 49% limit for foreign strategic investors in shares of listed companies, aiming to attract billions of dollars of foreign funds as the kingdom opens up the region’s largest bourse to a more diverse investor base.

There will be no minimum or maximum ownership limit, although the owners must hold the shares for two years before they can sell.

Demand from non-financial foreign investors pushed regulator CMA to grant approval on an exceptional basis to a number of strategic foreign investors to increase their holdings in Saudi listed companies.

Strategic foreign investors can take stakes in listed companies by buying shares directly on the market, or through private transactions and via initial public offerings.

Saudi Arabia is also offering a golden visa to expat investors who want to relocate to the Middle East desert kingdom – but the opportunity comes at a high price. Expats with US$215,000 can buy into the country’s permanent residency programme. Those with a little less money can purchase a one -year renewable residency visa for US$26,500. Sold as ‘premium residencies’, the golden visas give expats the chance to buy property, set up businesses without a Saudi sponsor, move jobs and have the chance to stay, leave or enter Saudi Arabia without any restrictions.

The visas also let expats sponsor visas for their families. The Saudi government requires that applicants are over 21 years old; can show financial solvency, have no health problems and no criminal record.