FIRST YEAR FOR THE BOOKS

Kuwait 2018 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Khaled AbdulRazzaq AlKhaled, CEO of Boursa Kuwait, on year-one milestones, improvements in financial market transparency, and hopes to become a regional finance hub.

Khaled AbdulRazzaq AlKhaled
BIOGRAPHY
Khaled AbdulRazzaq AlKhaled has more than 20 years’ experience in business law and regulatory matters, with a major focus on the commercial, investment and real estate sectors in Kuwait. Before joining Boursa Kuwait, AlKhaled was a board member of Kuwait Chamber of Commerce where he was recognized for his expertise in capital markets, macroeconomics, and the impact of local regulations on the investment environment. He was a member of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce’s Advisory Committee for establishing Kuwaiti commercial policies from 2004-2008. In addition, he served as chairman or board member for several companies in manufacturing and educational services.

Briefly, what is Boursa Kuwait's role in Kuwait's finance sector?

Boursa Kuwait currently operates as Kuwait's only stock exchange. The company received its official license from the Capital Markets Authority, the government regulating body, on October 5, 2016. Boursa Kuwait has replaced the Kuwait Stock Exchange as part of the government's plan to bolster the economic sector through privatizing the stock market. Boursa Kuwait's key strategic objective is to effectively create and manage an attractive issuer base, broaden the investor base, increase the depth and breadth of products, and upgrade the stock exchange infrastructure and business environment to international standards. Boursa Kuwait aims to enhance the current level of performance, enable the market to compete with regional peers, and build a market reflecting the strength, depth, and flexibility of the Kuwaiti private sector. In addition, Boursa Kuwait aims to develop products that will allow Kuwaiti investors to trade in leading regional and international equities in an easy and efficient manner.

It has been a year since you were officially licensed; how are you adapting to the environment?

Despite the challenges and obstacles, we have done well in our first year. We have successfully launched a set of initiatives that have enabled us to provide world-class services and products, create an attractive corporate platform, and broaden the investor base. Our upgrade from a frontier market to a secondary emerging market in September 2017 is a testament to our hard work and success throughout this year, which was a joint effort between the Capital Markets Authority, the Kuwait Clearing Company, and Boursa Kuwait.

One of your goals, when the firm was created, was to improve transparency, efficiency, and accessibility. How much progress is being made in this regard?

Since Boursa Kuwait took on the responsibility of the exchange, it has been transparent with its stakeholders; however, more importantly, it has disclosed and shared information at the appropriate time, ensuring that the amount and type of information are just right for market knowledge. For example, Boursa Kuwait was eager to introduce the Companies Information Portal (CIP), a platform that allows listed companies to upload company-related information independently and on a regular basis. Boursa Kuwait also provides financial data services for all listed companies. Such data includes income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and financial ratios that are updated on a quarterly and annual basis. In addition, some financial ratios are updated daily based on the closing price. The data is easily exportable and provided in both Arabic and English. The service is offered in affiliation with Thomson Reuters, an expert in the financial data services field. Boursa Kuwait's transparent approach has led its strategies since the start, and has positively resulted in a higher level of trust in the exchange.

The Kuwait 2035 Development plan aims to transform Kuwait into a regional hub for finance. How do you fit into that plan?

The new Kuwait strategy is indeed an important step toward supporting the exchange in capital markets; however, it goes both ways. The work being done within the exchange and the intellectual investment being made to ensure a successful transformation of the stock market is a key contribution to the improvement of the capital market's status and the economy as a whole. One of the plan's short- to medium-term objectives includes growing FDI by 300% through the rich portfolio of massive projects set to be rolled out over the coming years. By making such substantial investments, we are creating an attractive investment platform for foreigners and, hence, raising the profile of the nation's exchange market, which is already in the process of equipping the exchange with products, services, and trading systems that will allow it to operate according to world-class standards and based on global best practices.