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Mon 4 Jun 2012 09:19 AM

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Several firms in talks for Qatar IPOs - exchange boss

EXCLUSIVE: Head of Gulf state's bourse claims strong uptick in companies listing on exchange

Several firms in talks for Qatar IPOs - exchange boss

Qatar is set to see a strong upsurge in companies opting to list on the country’s bourse after a barren 2011, with a number of firms already in talks to list in the near future, the head of the country’s stock market said in an interview.

“In terms of IPOs (initial public offerings) last year it was slow as there was none,” Andre Went, CEO of Qatar Exchange, said in an interview in Doha.

Despite the lacklustre IPO market in the Gulf state in 2011, Went is confident about the outlook going forward, with a number of companies currently in talks to consider listing.

“We do see a strong pipeline and there are a number of companies we talk to on a very regular basis - our IPOs clients - and I’m sure in a reasonable timeframe they will approach the market,” he predicted.

“There are a range of reasons for companies to list: to attract new capital or to find new growth. It is also a way for existing investors to make their investment more liquid,” he added.

Capital markets in MENA raised just US$893.9m in IPOs last year, a decline of nearly 70 percent on the previous year, Ernst & Young said in January.

Last year closed with IPO funds worth US$226.1m being raised in the fourth quarter, a decline of 83.5 percent from US$1.4bn raised in Q4 2010.

Commenting on the overall performance of the capital markets in 2011, Phil Gandier, MENA head of Transaction Advisory Services, Ernst & Young, said: "Companies chose other fundraising routes over IPOs in 2011, which was another year of low capital market activity.

The largest IPO of 2011 in MENA was UAE's Eshraq Properties Company (US$229.1m) followed by Saudi Arabia's Hail Cement Company (US$130.5m) and the United Electronic Company (US$105.6m)

The growing interest in IPOs in Qatar can also be attributed to the increase in the number of brokerages in the country.

“In Qatar we used to have seven brokerages and we have been active in trying to increase that number... Now we a have 10 and soon we will see 11,” Went said.

Looking to 2012 as a whole, Went is overall very positive of the outlook for Qatar and the QE. “I would hope to see a further reflection of the strength of the economy in the exchange. We know there are a lot of projects being awarded and hopefully that will further advance the development of the market and, with that, it would be nice if the trading volumes picked up.”

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