DUBAI/KUWAIT- Kuwait has invited bids for financial advisors to manage the initial public offering of its stock exchange, sources told Reuters.

The country has been considering an initial public offering of its stock market for years, but political infighting and an entrenched bureaucracy have held up the process.

If the process moves ahead, advisors will be working on a tight deadline as the current law means the exchange's privatisation would have to be completed by June 2018, the sources said.

The Capital Markets Authority, which regulates the stock market, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Monday.

Kuwait's stock market is one of the oldest in the Middle East. Established officially in the early 1980's, it has shrunk in the past few years as dozens of companies have been delisted

Under a law passed in 2010, the CMA is supposed to offer 50 percent of the shares to Kuwaiti citizens and 50 percent to ten companies already listed on the stock exchange.

The exchange may, however, offer up to 44 percent of its shares to a company that has experience in operating bourses when it goes public, a senior government official told Reuters in 2015.

Such a move would open the way for an international exchange operator, such as Nasdaq Inc NDAQ.O or Euronext ENX.PA , to take a stake.

(Additional reporting by Ahmed Hagagy in Kuwait, editing by Louise Heavens) ((; +971566883310;))