(Adds details on stake offer, background)
KUWAIT, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Kuwait has hired Tri International Consulting Group (TICG) to advise on the initial public offer of shares in the operator of its stock exchange, the capital markets regulator said on Monday.
TICG is a joint venture between sovereign wealth fund Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, and international consulting firm Oliver Wyman.
Kuwait has been considering an IPO of its stock market for years, but political infighting and an entrenched bureaucracy have held up the process. Dubai’s bourse is currently the only listed stock exchange in the Gulf region.
The Kuwaiti bourse, with a market capitalisation of about $90 billion, is one of the oldest in the Middle East. Established officially in the early 1980s, it has seen the number of companies shrink in the past few years as dozens have been delisted.
But the market may soon raise its international profile and attract more foreign funds; Kuwait is due to enter FTSE’s secondary emerging market index in September, and some fund managers think MSCI may begin to consider this June a possible upgrade of Kuwait to emerging market status.
Kuwait’s Capital Markets Authority said 50 percent of the exchange would be offered to the public in the IPO, while between 26 percent and 44 percent could be sold to a company that has experience in operating bourses, or to companies already listed on the exchange. (Reporting by Haggagy Ahmed; additional reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Writing by Saeed Azhar:; Editing by Andrew Torchia)