Gulf IPO market stays tepid in Q1, says PwC

Only two Saudi firms list in first quarter, conventional and Islamic bond issuances grow

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Only two Gulf-based companies went public in the first the quarter of 2013, as the regional IPO market continues its recent lacklustre performance.

Both firms were based in Saudi Arabia. Northern Region Cement Company raised $240m and National Medical Care Company raised $97m.

Both IPOs were oversubscribed and performed well in the after-market following their debut on the Tadawul.

Although the number of listings was the same as in the final quarter of 2012, the total offering value was up by three times year-on-year, and by 35 percent on the previous quarter, according to data from PwC. 

Other highlights from the quarter included a better performance in the sovereign bond market, with the banking sector leading corporate bond issuances. Corporate sukuk issuances in the UAE led the region, with the likes of DEWA, Emirates Airline and Dubai Islamic Bank all tapping the market.

The UAE also dominated sovereign sukuk issuance in the first quarter, through the Government of Dubai’s ten-year $750m Islamic bond.

“With the exception of Saudi Arabia, IPO activity on regional stock exchanges in the first quarter continues to be subdued,” said Steve Drake, head of PwC’s capital markets business in the Middle East.

“We continue to see regional interest for equity rising but this interest is not yet manifesting itself into fresh equity being raised on the regional markets. In part this is due to certain regional markets remaining depressed and in others the regulatory process taking longer for companies coming to market.

“We are hopeful that 2013 will see an increase in activity over levels seen in recent years but it is unlikely to reach levels we saw pre-crisis in 2007 and 2008,” Drake added.

In the Middle East region as a whole, the value of IPOs increased by twentyfold in the first quarter year-on-year, according to Ernst & Young.

During the first three months, regional capital markets recorded $1.6bn in proceeds from three IPOs, up from $339.8m across four IPOs in the first quarter of 2012.

The vast majority of these proceeds came from Asiacell Communications’ $1.3bn listening on the Baghdad bourse this year.

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