Middle East: Gulf bourses dream again
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Middle East: Gulf bourses dream again

With resurging local interest and new catalysts for foreign investment, prospects are finally looking up for Gulf stock exchanges. Challenges remain, but new companies are already beginning to explore listings.

When fears of a US-led military strike against Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons surged in August, they sent tremors through the Gulf’s stock exchanges. Indices plunged. Dubai Financial Market’s main index fell by 7% in one day: its most dramatic one-day fall since the emirate’s 2009 debt crisis.

But when the bourses recovered quickly, analysts took it as further confirmation of an improved sentiment that has been slowly crystallizing over the past year. After a rollercoaster decade, the latest chapter of which was the 2008 crash, the region’s stock markets could be on the up again.

Recent stock flotations hint that this might be the case. Overall, IPO activity has been sluggish in the Gulf over the past few years. There were just 12 IPOs each year in 2009, 2010 and 2012, according to Dealogic. In 2011, the number dropped to just seven. However, eight IPOs were concluded in the first half of this year, and others are in the pipeline.

Mixed record
Top 10 GCC IPOs by size, 2009 to Oct 15 2013
Issuer Nationality Total value ($mln) Industry Pricing date Exchange Bookrunner
Vodafone Qatar Qatar 952 Telecom 30 Apr ’09 Qatar HSBC, Qatar National Bank
Saudi National Petrochemical Saudi Arabia 640 Oil & gas 28 Jul ’09 Saudi Arabia Riyad Bank
Nawras – Omani Qatari Telecom Oman 475 Telecom 27 Oct ’10 Muscat Bank Muscat, Morgan Stanley
Aluminium Bahrain Bahrain 372 Metal & steel 8 Nov ’10 Bahrain, London JPMorgan
Al-Tayyar Travel Group Saudi Arabia 365 Professional services 29 May ’12 Saudi Arabia Samba Capital
Al Noor Hospitals UAE 355 Healthcare 21 Jun ’13 London Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC
Saudi Airlines Catering Saudi Arabia 354 Dining & lodging 9 Jul ’12 Saudi Arabia Banque Saudi Fransi
Knowledge Economic City Saudi Arabia 272 Real Estate Commercial Bank 1 Jun ’10 Saudi Arabia
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