Abu Dhabi targets IPO frenzy ahead of Saudi Aramco

National Bank of Abu Dhabi (pictured) and First Gulf Bank have merged to create one of the largest regional lenders amid a wave of corporate consolidation in the UAE where several major share sales are under consideration. (Reuters)
Updated 21 September 2017
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Abu Dhabi targets IPO frenzy ahead of Saudi Aramco

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi is hoping to fast-track at least $5 billion of stock market listings by state-backed companies next year before Saudi Aramco’s planned $100 billion IPO dominates investor demand.
Like neighboring Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi is restructuring its industrial sector, hoping to lure foreign investors with privatizations after lower energy prices depleted its coffers.
This could result in at least five large listings, including the fuel distribution unit of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., aluminum-maker EGA, industrial conglomerate Senaat and Abu Dhabi Ports, government and banking sources said.
Bankers had pitched for the Abu Dhabi Ports IPO, but no decision has been made and the company has said there are no immediate plans for listing.
The IPOs could raise at least $5 billion, several of the sources said, exceeding money raised through listings in the UAE over the last five years, according to Thomson Reuters data. A total number of 13 IPOs have raised $4.49 billion since 2012.
Bankers said the companies hope to complete their IPOs before Saudi Arabia’s IPO of its crown jewel Saudi Aramco either in late 2018 or early 2019 as part of a wider multi-billion dollar privatization program.
Sanyalaksna Manibhandu, head of research at First Abu Dhabi Bank, said the aim was to get ahead of the IPO of Saudi Aramco and the upgrade of MSCI Saudi Arabia to emerging market status.
Government-owned companies in Abu Dhabi have been told to manage budgets efficiently and control spending and possibly raise their own finances for expansion to make them less reliant on the state, a source close to the government said.
“Abu Dhabi is taking bold measures to kickstart the markets and boost investor confidence by pushing government-related entities to sell shares and list publicly,” said an Abu Dhabi-based senior bank executive who has advised on deals there.
At the same time, Abu Dhabi-based companies spanning sectors such as banking, insurance, services and health care are also expected to go through more consolidation, the sources said.
Last year Abu Dhabi merged its two sovereign wealth funds, Mubadala and IPIC, while National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank created one of the largest banks in the Middle East and Africa.
“When we were a very young country, you could have multiple companies and you basically had to grab your domestic market share. Now it’s time to reach the size where we need to export our services, export our business,” said Sabah Al-Binali, a UAE-based investor.
Abu Dhabi is using tougher economic conditions to push through reforms that would have been harder to implement in previous years, when higher oil prices boosted its revenue.
“The good old days of the state bearing the weight of spending and providing subsidies because of rich resources is over. That model is outdated,” an Abu Dhabi-based banker said.
“The private sector has to bear the burden too now, something Abu Dhabi has realized.”


US stocks fall amid lingering trade war unease

Updated 23 July 2018
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US stocks fall amid lingering trade war unease

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks retreated early Monday ahead of major earnings reports later this week amid lingering unease over US trade conflicts.
About 40 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.1 percent at 25,031.47.
The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 0.1 percent to 2,799.59, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slid 0.2 percent to 7,801.58.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker heads to Washington on Wednesday to meet with President Donald Trump and try to avert an escalation of tit-for-tat trade tariffs.
Trump already is embroiled in a messy trade spat with China, while negotiations with Canada and Mexico to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled.
“It is hard to imagine a more difficult trading environment due to worsening trade-war rhetoric, a sharp devaluation of the Chinese currency, an unsynchronized global recovery, and the President commenting on Fed policy,” said Canaccord Genuity strategist Tony Dwyer.
Dwyer noted that any pullback would be a buying opportunity given strong corporate earnings.
Earnings season will heat up further in the coming days with reports from Google-parent Alphabet, Boeing and Amazon, among others.
Also on tap this week will be the first reading on second-quarter US growth, which is forecast to be a blockbuster, albeit a one-time burst.
Among individual stocks, US-listed shares of Fiat Chrysler fell 2.3 percent, while Ferrari slumped 4.8 percent after the sudden exit of chief executive Sergio Marchionne due to health reasons.
Amazon dipped 0.7 percent after Trump again attacked the company on Twitter, swiping at the “Amazon Washington Post” and suggesting the company should face antitrust charges.
The Washington Post is owned by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, but is now owned by the online retail giant.