"The dialogue is clearly intensifying, and they are looking at mid-January for publishing the term sheet for access," said the source, who declined to be identified.
The country has been considering a wider opening of its market for several years and, earlier this month, two industry sources revealed that it planned to offer a limited direct foreign ownership. At the time, sources expected this to happen by mid to late first quarter of 2012.
The opening up of the stock market is likely to attract considerable interest as it offers foreigners a chance to invest directly in blue chips like Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) 2010.SE, the world's most valuable chemical company. Other big players in the exchange include Samba Financial 1090.SE, the country's second-largest lender by market value, and former monopoly Saudi Telecom 7040.SE.