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Tue 19 Aug 2008 03:09 AM

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Palestinian stock market to sell stake by IPO by year-end

Bourse with market capitalisation of $3.1bn was top performer in 2008.

The 11-year old Palestine Securities Exchange (PSE), where 37 companies from the West Bank and Gaza Strip trade, plans to sell shares to the public by the end of the year, newswire Bloomberg reported its Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Aweidah as saying on Monday.

The PSE, whose listed companies have a market value of $3.1 billion, will sell a stake of at least 25 percent, Aweidah told the newswire.

The exchange, founded more than a decade ago by the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Development and Investment Co., also expects three new listings by the end of 2008 and may consider a merger in the future, he said.

The share sale will come after the bourse's benchmark Al-Quds Index outperformed 86 of 88 equity gauges tracked by Bloomberg in 2008 with a 28 percent gain and the average value of shares changing hands doubled from last year to $6.4 million.

"We want to send the message across of credibility and transparency," said Aweidah. "We want to institute a culture of taking companies public and what better way to set the example than do it ourselves."

Aweidah was appointed CEO of the Palestine bourse two months ago, after spending three years as head of the fixed-line unit of Palestine Telecommunications Co., the largest phone company in the Palestinian territories.

He replaced Hasan Abu Libdeh, who is currently the special adviser on economic affairs to the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

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