Bahrain bourse speaks out on merger speculation

Bourse aims to boost liquidity, but says is not in talks for tie-up or joint ventures
Bahrain bourse speaks out on merger speculation
Bahrains bourse denied it was looking for a merger partner and said it aims to boost liquidity and attract new listings on its own
By Reuters
Tue 29 Mar 2011 04:52 PM

Bahrain's bourse denied it was looking for a merger partner and aims to boost liquidity and attract new listings on its own, its director said Tuesday.

Local daily National reported on Tuesday the exchange, which incorporated as an independent company earlier in the year, will seek a tie-up with another bourse to see out the worst of the regional unrest citing the same executive.

"We have a strategic plan to boost liquidity and volumes on the exchange but any discussions for tie-ups or mergers are not on the table now," Fouad Rahman Rashid, the director of the bourse said.

Bahrain's stock market, the smallest Gulf market, has already been plagued with low levels of trading due to its makeup which includes institutions that trade infrequently.

Earlier this month it was forced to close amid sectarian unrest in the island kingdom.

The bourse began to operate commercially as a financial institution aiming to make profits from January 2011 and since then has been trying to attract more liquidity and listings to the market, the executive said.

"We are a company now. We have to make profits just like anyone else. For that, more listings are required," he said.

Bahrain has been struggling with protests and political unrest that has prompted credit downgrades of the small state, forced the market to shut briefly and shuttered financial operations over the last month.

Despite the unrest, the bourse has held up compared with other regional exchanges, the executive said. Bahrain's index is down 1.8 percent so far this year, compared with 3.3 percent for the Qatar bourse.

But trading volumes have been miniscule compared with other exchanges with very few shares trading on a daily basis.

Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) priced its initial public offering on BSE at the bottom of the proposed price range last year after it drew just enough buyers to cover the offering.

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