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Wed 25 Jul 2007 11:50 PM

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Kingdom Holding shares to trade Sunday

Capital Markets Authority says shares of Alwaleed's Kingdom will start trading on the Saudi bourse this Sunday.

Shares of Kingdom Holding, controlled by billionaire Prince Alwaleed, will start trading on Saudi Arabia's bourse on Sunday, the Capital Markets Authority said on Wednesday.

Kingdom Holding raised 3.23 billion riyals ($861 million) in an initial public offering which closed 164 percent oversubscribed last week.

It sold a 5 percent stake at 10.25 riyals in the IPO, which was open to Saudi nationals only.

Saudi investors took no heed of religious edicts which warned the company’s investments in hotels and banks violated Islam’s ban on usury and alcohol.

Kingdom's IPO priced its shares at around 67 times 2006 earnings, more than five times the average for the Saudi bourse, on which it will be the fifth-largest stock.

The grandson of Saudia Arabia’s founder took his company public after a stock market crash halved the value of the Saudi bourse last year and diminished the appetite for initial public offerings in the world's biggest oil-exporting region.

The Saudi stock index dropped 52.5% last year and is off about 6% in 2007, making it the worst performer among 13 Arab benchmarks tracked by Reuters.

Four of the 13 markets fell more than 35% last year, making more companies reluctant to sell shares to the public and investors more cautious about buying them.

Prince Alwaleed’s stake in Kingdom, which had $24 billion in assets at the end of 2006, will fall to 93.5% after the sale.

Alwaleed is Citigroup Inc.'s largest individual shareholder. Kingdom Holding's portfolio also includes shares of Time Warner Inc., Apple Computer Inc., Motorola Inc. and News Corporation Inc. as well as Savola Group, the Gulf's largest food company by market value.