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Mon 2 Apr 2007 11:17 AM

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Demand strong for Saudi insurance IPOs

The Kingdom's liberalised insurance industry is viewed as a lucrative sector by investors.

Saudi Arabia's Arabian Shield Insurance closed its 80mn riyal ($21.3mn) initial public offering 3.5 times oversubscribed, the issue's lead manager said on Saturday.

The offering, for a 40% stake in the company, has attracted bids worth around 361mn riyals, Saudi Hollandi Bank said in a statement.

Arabian Shield was among five Saudi insurance firms which launched initial public offerings earlier in March to raise a total of 266mn riyals. Shares in the five IPOs, which closed on March 26, have all been priced at 10 riyals each.

Initial public offerings of United Company for Cooperative Insurance, IAIC and Assurance Saudi Fransi (ASF) have all been oversubscribed two to three days after they opened, their financial adviser Capital Group said earlier this month.

SABB Takaful's 35mn riyal IPO, for 35% of the firm, was 31% oversubscribed two days after its launch, company spokesman Ibrahim Aboumouti has said.

Aboumouti said a statement on SABB Takaful's final IPO results would soon be published.

Capital Group officials could not immediately provide final results of the three other insurance firms' IPOs.

United Company for Cooperative Insurance and IAIC both offered 40% stakes each to raise 80mn and 40mn riyals respectively.

ASF was seeking to raise 31mn riyals from the flotation of a 31% stake.

IAIC is a subsidiary of Dubai-based Salama Islamic Arab Insurance. ASF is controlled by Banque Saudi Fransi and SABB Takaful is controlled by SABB bank.

Saudi Arabia has licensed a number of insurance firms to liberalise and modernise the sector, on condition that they offer shares to the public and apply the Islamic form of insurance known as Takaful.

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