Saudi Arabia Telling Foreign Banks to Disclose Finances

  • Saudi Capital Markets Authority seeking to boost transparency
  • Regulator demands publication of accounts from next month

Saudi Arabia’s investment banking regulator is telling international banks to publicly disclose financial statements for the first time as the kingdom seeks to boost transparency.

QuickTake Saudi Arabia’s Strains

The Capital Markets Authority is requiring financial institutions it regulates to publish the information on their websites from April 1, an official at the Riyadh-based regulator said in an e-mailed response to questions, without giving further information. Entities licensed by the CMA, as the investment banking and markets regulator is known, include the units of international banks and the securities arms of local lenders.

The CMA has said firms must also disclose senior executives’ pay and significant risk factors, two people with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private. The only banks which need to disclose financial statements now are the 12 publicly traded domestic lenders regulated by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority.

The disclosure will give insight into how much money banks are making amid a slowdown in economic growth, as well as the cost of employing top executives. The country is one of HSBC Holding Plc’s 19 priority growth markets, while Deutsche Bank AG said it posted its best-ever performance in Saudi Arabia last year. U.S. banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. also have a presence in the country, the world’s largest oil exporter, the biggest Arab economy, and home to the region’s largest stock market.

‘More Aggressive’

The CMA will be “more aggressive” in implementing market rules and pushing for greater transparency, chairman Mohammed Al-Jadaan said last year. The CMA started a probe into phone company Etihad Etisalat for suspected violations of rules related to the disclosure of financial information, market manipulation and insider trading last year. The regulator also banned Deloitte LLP from auditing any listed company in December 2014 after a dispute relating to its accounting work for Mohammad Al-Mojil Group, a construction-industry services provider, people familiar said at the time.

JPMorgan is among banks looking to hire in the country and plans to increase headcount by about 10 percent this year, Bader Alamoudi, chief executive officer of the bank’s local investment banking unit, said in an interview in January.

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