* Follows failure to publish 2008 earnings on time
* Includes Global, Kuwait's biggest investment bank
* Bourse closes up 1.1 pct
(Adds analyst, Global statement, details, background)
By Rania El Gamal and Ulf Laessing
KUWAIT, April 1 Kuwait's bourse halted trading
in more than a fifth of its listed companies, including Global
Investment House GLOB.KW and Investment Dar TIDK.KW, after
they failed to publish 2008 earnings on time.
The Arab world's second-largest bourse said on Wednesday it
suspended trade and did not say when it would resume. Such
suspensions have, in the past, lasted for days.
Global, the country's biggest investment bank, and Dar are
both in talks with creditors to revamp their operations and get
"Trading in the shares of 36 firms will be halted ...
starting Wednesday April 1 for not presenting the (2008) annual
financial reports on time," the bourse said in a statement on
Kuwait -- which recently approved a $5 billion stimulus plan
for the financial industry [ID:nLQ655621] -- is the only Gulf
Arab state without an independent authority supervising its
bourse, and analysts have long demanded better regulation and
clarity on stock market rules.
Foreign investors complain that important company news is
only made available in Arabic and unsourced newspaper reports
often move stocks.
A minimum of corporate data has to be released compared with
other Gulf Arab states and some companies even release their
results first in the local press over the weekend, to the dismay
Global will release its full-year results once it has
approval from the country's central bank, which is currently
reviewing them, it said in a statement on London's stock
exchange, released after shares in Kuwait were suspended. It did
not give a date.
The stock exchange also stopped trading in several other
investment companies including Aayan Leasing and Investment Co
(AAYA.KW), Noor Financial Co (NOOR.KW), the investment arm of
Kuwaiti conglomerate National Industries Holding Group
(NIND.KW), and Al-Mal Investment Co (MALK.KW), a firm controlled
by the family owned conglomerate Kharafi Group.
Naser al-Nafisi, general manager of the al-Joman Center for
Economic Consultancy, said the bourse had recently made some
progress in transparency by requiring firms to disclose more
than net profit or earnings per share.
"It is a first step but not enough," Nafisi said, adding
that companies reporting late should be fined.
The Gulf Arab state aims to set up a financial regulator,
but the legislation has been delayed for almost two years by
Kuwait's bourse .KWSE closed up 1.14 percent on Wednesday.
(Editing by Sam Cage and Simon Jessop)