Palestine Exchange has fifth IPO this year

Al Takaful, the only Shariah-compliant insurance company in the Palestinian Territories, became the fifth company to list shares on the country's stock market drawing attention to the tiny exchange

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After another initial public offering this week on the Palestinian exchange, the bourse's chief executive said he hoped the exchange itself would soon issue shares.

Al Takaful Palestinian Insurance, the only Sharia-compliant insurance company in the Palestinian Territories, was valued at only US$8.5 million. It listed on the Palestine Exchange on Tuesday at $1.10 a share, ending a process that began soon after the company was formed in 2007.

Al Takaful is the fifth company to list on the Palestine Exchange this year, and the stock market's chief executive, Ahmad Aweidah, is excited about the buzz being created.

"The fact that we're listing companies all the time enhances the exchange's liquidity but also its credibility," he said. "We're increasing market cap all the time."

Mr Aweidah said yesterday he wanted to list a minimum of 25 per cent of shares of the exchange by the end of this year.

The Palestine Exchange would become only the second publicly listed Arab stock market, after the Dubai Financial Market.

The exchange lists 45 companies with a total market capitalisation of just under $3 billion.

Yesterday, shares in Al Takaful fell nearly 1 per cent to $1.11.

Global fund managers have largely avoided the Palestinian exchange because it is not tracked by major indexes.

But Mr Aweidah is optimistic the exchange can capitalise on its relative stability while unrest in some Arab countries shook their markets. The exchange was at one point the best-performing market in the region, while others including Egypt's and Saudi Arabia's shed more than 20 per cent of their value.

Volume on the 13-year-old exchange has been boosted by the participation of some frontier funds based in London, but local retail investors comprise 95 per cent.

The bourse has long made known its intention to attract investors from among Palestinians living outside the territories.