Kuwait hired HSBC Holdings Plc to help the privatisation of the country\'s stock exchange, the third-biggest bourse by market capitalisation in the Arabian Gulf. HSBC Bank Middle East Ltd. signed an agreement with the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) that will lead \"to the privatisation of the Kuwait Stock Exchange and the establishment of a new company that will own and operate the stock market,\" according to a statement distributed in Kuwait City yesterday. IPO planned The government plans to sell 50 per cent of the exchange to listed companies and the remainder to Kuwaitis in an initial public offering. Currently, Dubai\'s stock exchange is the only publicly traded Gulf Arab stock market. Kuwait\'s benchmark index declined 16 per cent last year. Article continues below \"Certain developments took place and caused a delay\" in the sale process, Abdullah Al Gabandi, head of the exchange privatisation committee at the Capital Markets Authority, told reporters without providing further details. \"The valuation process has started. As of now, the meter has started counting.\" The agreement with HSBC is for six months, Al Gabandi said, and \"all parties are seeking to reduce the period of time as much as they can.\" The privatisation committee and HSBC officials didn\'t provide a timeline for the sale process. The Kuwait exchange has been regulated since March 2011 by the CMA, the country\'s first stock market regulator.