Saudi gov't plans to sell 15% stake in largest lender

Saudi Arabia's government plans to sell a 15 percent stake in National Commercial Bank (NCB) in an initial public offer. Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf said the IPO plan would be submitted to the market regulator in the third quarter of this year. Sovereign fund Public Investment Fund will be the seller. The fund, which currently owns most of NCB, will also sell an additional 10 percent stake to the government's Public Pension Agency. The pricing of the IPO was not discussed but it is likely to be one of Saudi Arabia's biggest. Until now, direct foreign investment is not allowed in Saudi's stock market. Authorities are preparing to open the market but it is not clear when this will happen.