By Frederik Richter
Shareholders not yet decided on the size of the stake, but proceeds will be invested.
Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), owned by the country's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat, plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO) later this year, its chairman said on Tuesday.
Speaking to Reuters, Mahmood Hashim Al Kooheji said: "The listing will definitely happen this year," confirming what sources familiar with the matter earlier told Reuters.
He said shareholders of Alba had not yet decided on the size of the stake but said proceeds of the IPO would be used by Mumtalakat to make investments.
Saudi Arabia's SABIC owns a minority stake in Alba.
Mumtalakat, which bundles Bahrain's non oil state owned companies, is one of the smaller sovereign wealth funds in the world's top oil exporting region, with $9.1 billion in assets at the end of 2009.
The fund, which also owns Bahrain's national carrier Gulf Air, plans to divest some of its local holdings and diversify its portfolio to more international and more liquid assets.
Alba, operator of an aluminium smelter in Bahrain, posted a full year net loss of $220.7 million in 2009, compared with a profit of $781.9 million the year before, due to lower aluminium prices, according to a Mumtalakat investor presentation from June.
Kooheji said Alba will decide next year whether to add a sixth production line that would bring the capacity of its aluminium smelter to 1.5 million tonnes annually.
A source familiar with the matter said earlier that JP Morgan had been appointed as advisors on the IPO.
After a slump in IPOs in the Gulf in the last two years, Omani telecoms operator Nawras' IPO opened for subscriptions on Sept 15 and will test whether deal pricing meshes with market sentiment.
Telecoms and energy sectors as well as government assets are expected to lead a revival in the Gulf Arab IPO market. (Reuters)For all the latest Bahrain news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.