Top regulator says Saudi reforms carry execution risk but huge opportunities

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One of Saudi Arabia’s top financial regulators has admitted there are “execution risks” surrounding the huge reforms the country is embarking on, but spoke of the opportunities the changes could deliver.

“We see an opportunity to reform and change the country like no time that we’ve experienced in the past,” Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, the chairman of the Saudi Arabian Capital Market Authority, told CNBC Friday.

When asked broadly about any potential challenges, he said that the main risks are around execution.

“Whenever you have something which has this high an aspiration level, and this tight a timeline, the challenge is to get it done and get it done with the right level of quality and the right level of sequence,” he said.

“Our belief, at least in the capital market realm is that actually, at least in the last year the capital market authority and the exchange have done a great job in translating, not just plans, but translating them into execution.”

Saudi market can become one of world’s biggest, CMA chairman says

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s government unveiled a long-term economic blueprint for life in a low-oil-price world. Titled “Saudi Vision 2030,” the plan includes regulatory, budget and policy changes that will be implemented over the next 15 years in the hope of making the kingdom less reliant on crude. It aims to build a “prosperous and sustainable economic future” for the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Mohammed El-Kuwaiz expressed confidence over the listing of the country’s state oil firm Aramco. The Saudi government is yet to announce whether Aramco’s primary listing will be in London or New York, but it has decided that a portion of the firm will be floated on the country’s domestic stock index the Tadawul.

“We’ve found very few gaps in our local regulations and we’re actually ready with minimal changes to accommodate the Aramco IPO or any other big listing,” he told CNBC.

The Saudi Arabian Capital Market Authority Chairman also argued that the much-anticipated IPO is galvanizing broader efforts to reform the country’s financial system.

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