Press Release

Foreign investors reach a record high and now hold 50.3% of Spanish stocks

10 October, 2023
  • The share of households in the Spanish stock market continues its convergence with other European markets and falls by one percentage point to 16.2%
  • Non-financial companies hold 21.3% of the shares of listed companies in Spain
  • Public Administrations raise their shareholding to 3.2%, a record in 25 years

Non-resident investors raised their stake in Spanish shares to 50.3% at the close of 2022, a growth of one and a half percentage points over the previous year and an all-time high. This is reflected in the latest Report on Ownership of Listed Spanish stock prepared annually by BME's Research Department. The weight of international investors in the Spanish stock market has grown by more than ten percentage points in the last decade and 16 so far this century. 

The report also highlights that listing on the stock exchange is a decisive factor in companies' access to international capital and in achieving the scale of size necessary to be more competitive. According to the Financial Accounts of the Bank of Spain, the weight of international investors in unlisted companies was less than 25%, i.e. less than half that of companies listed on the Spanish stock exchange. Among the international groups present on the Spanish stock exchange are the large international investment fund managers, pension plans and ETFs, as well as venture capital, private equity and sovereign wealth funds.

The second group with the largest presence in Spanish stock ownership is non-financial companies, which raised their share by four tenths to 21.3%. This is a maximum since 2012.

Household participation in the Spanish stock market continued to fall, in a progressive convergence with the data for direct participation of retail investors in equities in the main European countries. At the end of last year, retail investors controlled 16.2% of Spanish shares, almost one percentage point less than last year and the second lowest figure in the historical series. The growing weight of investment funds, the absence of a retail tranche in the latest IPOs and the rise among young people of non-conventional assets are some of the reasons for this decline. However, according to the Bank of Spain's latest household financial survey (2020), 12.3% of Spanish households invested in the stock market. That is, 2.3 million households and around 5.8 million people with exposure to shares.

The share in the ownership of listed companies on the Spanish stock exchange also fell for collective investment institutions and insurance companies (from 7% to 5.9% in one year) and for banks and savings banks (from 3.5% to 3.1%). On the other hand, the weight of public administrations rose from 2.7% to 3.2%. This meant that they were no longer the group of investors with the smallest presence for the first time since 2006. They also set a 25-year high. However, their participation remained far from the levels of over 16% reached in 1992 and 1993, before the successive privatizations of public companies.

From the low participation of collective investment in the capital of Spanish listed companies, the authors of the Report conclude that the lack of incentives, especially tax incentives, for national institutional investment to support Spanish listed companies is a competitive handicap for smaller companies, precisely those that find it most difficult to attract the attention of foreign investors.

The complete report is available here.

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