Looking for Cheap Stocks? Try Libya

According to a report from Reuters, investing in Libyan stocks may sound like an absurd idea, but despite the turmoil, Libya's stock market is getting ready for the first launch of Islamic investment funds, the most prominent bourse debut since the uprising.

A recent sell-off has made Libyan stocks cheaper than other regional bourses, with major banks down more than 50 percent.

Set up in 2007, the Libyan bourse has only 11 stocks, with foreign investors accounting for only 1.5 percent of trades. The biggest problem, according to one broker, is the lack of liquidity. Another is that the central bank makes it difficult to transfer hard currency out of Libya, something the bourse is trying to change.

The Libyan bourse has a market value of around $3 billion, compared with $70 billion in Cairo and $50 billion in Casablanca; in the Arab world, only the Khartoum and Damascus are smaller.

Authorities also hope a regulator, another novelty for Libya, will bring transparency to an opaque market and put it on investors' radars.

An Islamic real estate fund worth 165 million Libyan dinars is expected in April, with a projected annual return of 20 percent, with a second fund worth 300 million dinars to follow a few months later.

One firm that plans to float in 2015 is Husni Bey's HB Group, a holding company with stakes in an array of retail and financial units. Husni Bey commented:

"We don't want to float before the overall political and economic environment is in place ... It is just a question of time and it (the bourse) will move."

(Source: Reuters)

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