RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has 23 companies approved to list on the kingdom's stock exchange, the head of the kingdom's Capital Market Authority (CMA) said on Sunday.

There are also more than 75 applications pending approval to list and 70 signed mandates with financial intermediaries and advisers in the early part of the process, CMI Chairman Mohammed bin Abdullah Elkuwaiz told a conference in Riyadh.

Companies that secure approval from the CMA have six months to launch their public share sales. The Saudi Exchange is the Arab world's largest, with a market capitalisation of about $2.65 trillion.

"If you look at this in tandem, it gives us an indication that we still have a very, very healthy pipeline," Elkuwaiz said at the Saudi Capital Market Forum.

The Saudi stock market had 49 new listings last year, in which companies raised about 40 billion riyals ($10.66 billion), he said, adding that the market watchdog is also planning to create a regulatory framework for dual listings.

The Saudi exchange's chief executive, Mohammed Alrumaih, said in a separate panel at the conference that the bourse plans to launch depository receipts representing shares in a foreign company but traded locally.

The exchange also plans to introduce single stock options, a vehicle that gives investors the right to buy or sell a stock at a fixed priced at a future date.

($1 = 3.7525 riyals)

(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi Editing by Frances Kerry and David Goodman)