Dubai firms waiting for right moment to launch IPOs

Between 25 and 30 companies are interested in going public in Dubai but many are waiting for stronger market conditions before launching, says the chairman of Borse Dubai.

Up to 30 companies are mulling share sales in Dubai but many are waiting for an improvement in markets before launching, says the chairman of Borse Dubai.

Other companies would not launch an initial public offering (IPO) until they completed restructuring their businesses, said Essa Kazim, who is also the chief executive of the Dubai Financial Market (DFM).

"Twenty-five to 30 companies have shown some interest in going public," he said. "They're interested but they're waiting for the right moment provided the market conditions, especially the global market conditions, change."

Global and local markets have been buffeted by volatility in recent weeks as investors remain concerned about the world economy.

Company valuations have also tumbled as local markets have been affected by regional unrest and a twin debt crisis in the US and Europe.

Mr Kazim said some of the companies were unlikely to list until valuations improved.

IPO activity in Dubai has remained thin on the ground since the global financial downturn. Abu Dhabi accounted for the three IPOs in the UAE in the first half of the year. Axiom Telecom in December abandoned plans for an IPO on Nasdaq Dubai, citing concerns about market conditions and liquidity.

Borse Dubai, the holding company for the DFM and Nasdaq Dubai, is targeting firms from a broader cross section of the emirate's economy.

A number of the companies interested in listing were in tourism, logistics and trade, said Mr Kazim.

"Today, the market has been predominantly finance, real estate and construction companies," he said.

"But the bulk of Dubai's economy is trade, logistics, and tourism. We are seeking those companies to go public on our market to get a better representation of the Dubai market."

Bank and property stocks were hard hit by the financial downturn, and the valuation of banks on the UAE's stock markets last week fell to their lowest level in six months.

Gulf IPOs have fallen by half in the first six months of the year, plunging 57 per cent to US$358 million (Dh1.3bn) from $830m a year earlier, PricewaterhouseCoopers said last week.

tarnold@thenational.ae

Published: August 23, 2011 04:00 AM

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