The initial public offering market in June witnessed a continued pickup in activity following an apparent restoration of risk appetite on the part of investors, but IPO announcements were mostly dominated by Saudi companies. The Saudi Capital Market Authority appears to be resigning to IPO pipeline pressure, driven in part by the success of recent offerings such as Weqaya Takaful Insurance and Reinsurance Company’s IPO, which was three times covered.
Weqaya’s shares, which debuted on the Saudi exchange on June 20, soared 288% with heavy volume to $10.36, from an offering price of $2.67.
The largest IPO announcement of the month came from Saudi Steel Pipe, which plans to sell 16 million shares or 31.4% of the company in an IPO scheduled between June 27 and July 3. With shares offered at a price of $6.68 per share, Saudi Steel Pipe expects to raise $107 million, valuing the company at $340 million. GIB Financial Services is the share sale’s lead manager and will have the option to allocate up to 50% of the shares to individual investors, leaving the rest to the institutional buy-side.
Three local insurance companies also received approval from the Capital Market Authority to raise a combined $51.2 million through share offerings. The three insurers — General Cooperative Insurance, Global Cooperative Insurance and Buruj Cooperative Insurance — will offer 40%, 30% and 40% of their shares respectively for $2.67 each. IPO activity in the Saudi kingdom included the approval of Saudi Petrochem’s planned offering of 50% of its shares, and Al Khuraif Group’s announcement that it plans to offer some of its shares, or those of one of its units, to the public.
Saudi Al Mouwasat Medical Services said it plans to sell 7.5 million shares or 30% of the company in an IPO from August 15 to August 21, while healthcare and pharmaceutical company Banaja Holdings will also launch an IPO as it proceeds with its restructuring plans. Furthermore, the Aramco-Total $9.6 billion joint venture in Saudi Arabia, named Satorp, said it plans to sell off 25% of its shares in the refinery in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Still, IPO buzz was not limited to Saudi Arabia. Albaraka, Bahrain’s largest Islamic Bank, announced plans to list its shares on the Damascus Stock Exchange (DSE) by August, comforted by the 15% increase in the Syrian International Islamic Bank’s (SIIB) shares on their first trading day on June 4. Bank of Alexandria, a unit of Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, said it was holding talks with the Egyptian government to sell the state’s 20% stake in an initial public offering worth more than $300 million. The Qatari government also said it expects to take the Qatar Exchange public in the near future, while Dubai-based Noor Islamic Bank said it may offer part of the company to the public within three to four years.
Despite improving market sentiment, several public offerings were delayed until the effects of the global economic crisis have waned. Scotland-based oil and gas engineering firm Proclad Group said it has postponed the planned offering of 30% of the company on the Dubai Financial Market by almost two years to 2013. Burooj Properties, which is fully owned by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, also pushed its IPO date from 2010 to 2011 or later, citing the financial crisis as the reason behind the decision. Improving market conditions will also set the date for an IPO by Emirates Steel Industries, a unit of Abu Dhabi Basic Industries, which tied its public offering to the presence of suitable market conditions within one to two years.
In summary, the IPO pipeline remains flooded with delayed offerings pending clearer signs of a fundamental and sustainable recovery in credit flows and economic growth. Still, with Saudi Arabia leading the way in the number and size of public offerings, it is very likely that a cohesion effect could take hold and drive near-term IPO activity. In a new era of lower leverage and limited bank financing, acquisitions and expansion plans will rely in part on capital raised from share offerings. Therefore, IPOs will continue to take advantage of the relative stability in equity markets seen in the last few months, as well as strong investor demand for newly-listed shares.