DUBAI- Franklin Templeton funds have become qualified foreign investors (QFI) in Saudi Arabia, which will allow them to invest directly in Riyadh's stock market, the U.S. fund manager said on Monday.
The approval comes as Saudi Arabia implements a far reaching economic transformation programme aimed at stimulating growth and employment, it said in a statement.
In March global index compiler FTSE Russell decided to upgrade Saudi Arabia to emerging market status, and MSCI is widely expected to make a similar decision in June.
These moves, and the listing of oil giant Aramco, are expected to attract billions of dollars of fresh foreign money into Saudi Arabia.
"Saudi Arabia is a reform story on many levels," said Bassel Khatoun, managing director, frontier and MENA of Franklin Templeton Emerging Markets Equity in a statement.
"Bold fiscal reforms, including steps to reduce its reliance on oil, will put Saudi's economy on more sustainable footing over the long-term."
(Reporting by Saeed Azhar; editing by David Evans) ((Saeed.Azhar@thomsonreuters.com; +971 44536787; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))