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Sun 23 Mar 2008 10:44 AM

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Qatar Petroleum IPO five-times oversubscribed

Share sale for new holding company grouping three QP services firms.

Investors offered 8.9 billion Qatari riyals ($2.45 billion), five times more than state-owned Qatar Petroleum (QP) was looking to raise, in the initial public offering (IPO) of a new holding company grouping three of its services firms.

Gulf International Services offered stock at 21 riyals per share, plus a 0.6-riyal offering cost, it said in a statment received late on Saturday.

QP said in February it would sell a 65.8% stake in the firm and retain 30%. Another 4.2% stake will be reserved for "selected institutions".

An official had told newswire Reuters the company aimed to raise 1.72 billion riyals. The deadline for refunding the additional subscription money is March 26, the statement said.

Gulf International Services is a holding company, which includes Gulf Helicopter Company, Gulf Drilling Company and Al-Koot Insurance and Reinsurance Company.

HSBC Holdings advised on the sale.

Gulf International plans to list on the Doha Securities Market during the second quarter provided it receives the necessary regulatory approvals, a QP official, who declined to be identified told Reuters.

Only Qatar Oman Investment Company and Al-Khaliji Bank sold shares in Qatari IPOs last year, when investor appetite for Gulf Arab stocks picked up following a stock market crash in 2006 that saw the Doha Securities Market shed 35%.

Qatar could see as many as three companies selling shares in IPOs this year, Youssef Kamal, the Gulf Arab state's finance minister, told Reuters on March 16.

The index closed almost 34% up in 2007.

Gulf Arab investors plan to sell about $10 billion of stock to the public during the next three years, more than previously forecast, as governments relax the rules, Abu Dhabi-based private equity firm Gulf Capital said in January.

More than 40 firms have appointed advisers to arrange sales, and another 41 have said they plan initial public offerings through to the end of 2010, Gulf Capital said in a report.

The economy of Opec member Qatar - the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and home to the world's third-biggest natural gas reserves - is booming on windfall oil revenue as prices have risen more than five-fold since 2002. (Reuters)