UAE’s Finablr cuts IPO price in volatile markets

Finablr has been seeking to raise $200 million from the sale of new stock ahead of flotation on the London Stock Exchange. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 May 2019

UAE’s Finablr cuts IPO price in volatile markets

  • The listing of the shares is expected on Wednesday
  • The company, whose brands include UAE Exchange, Travelex Holdings and Xpress Money, has been seeking to raise $200 million from the sale of new stock ahead of flotation on the London Stock Exchange

ABU DHABI/LONDON: United Arab Emirates-based Finablr had to cut the price on its initial public offering as the payments and foreign exchange company faced weak investor demand in jittery markets which also rocked ride-hailing app Uber’s Wall Street debut.
Finablr was priced at 175 pence per share, the bookrunner said on Tuesday, significantly below an initially anticipated 210-260 pence range, giving the company an implied market value of about 1.23 billion pounds ($1.59 billion).
Books were covered at full value of the deal worth 192.5 million shares, according to a message seen by Reuters from a bookrunner, which means the share offering will raise about 337 million pounds.
The deal size includes a revised base deal size of 175 million shares and 17.5 million of over-allotment option shares, the bookrunner said.
This came after global stock markets tumbled on Monday as the trade dispute between the United States and China escalated.
In the UAE, where the company is based, both stock markets in Abu Dhabi and Dubai suffered their biggest single-day declines in years due to escalating tensions in the Middle East after several commercial ships were attacked off the coast of the UAE.
Finablr extended the closing of books for the London IPO to Tuesday from Monday due to the volatile market conditions, two sources familiar with the deal said on Monday.
The company, whose brands include UAE Exchange, Travelex Holdings and Xpress Money, has been seeking to raise $200 million from the sale of new stock ahead of a flotation on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
The listing of the shares is expected on Wednesday, said the sources, who declined to be identified because the information is not yet public.
“The closing of books is extended by a day because of market volatility. Finablr wanted to get the right register,” one of the sources told Reuters.
Finablr’s IPO plans were confirmed last month following the successful public flotation of Middle East payments firm Network International.
The Finablr network has a global reach spanning more than 170 countries and managed $114.5 billion in annual volumes for its clients as of December. Its biggest markets are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines.
The holding company Finablr will become the umbrella for UAE-based business tycoon and founder Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty’s financial service brands.
Shetty, Finablr’s biggest shareholder, bought UK-based Travelex in January 2015 for 800 million pounds ($1.1 billion). He took another company he founded, NMC Health, public on the LSE in 2012. Like NMC Health, Finablr will have its headquarters in the UAE.
JPMorgan, Barclays and Goldman Sachs are global coordinators for the deal. Bookrunners include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, EFG Hermes and Numis . Evercore is acting as financial adviser.

Virus pressure tests Saudi Arabia reforms as Aramco has Forbes debut

Updated 28 May 2020

Virus pressure tests Saudi Arabia reforms as Aramco has Forbes debut

  • ‘In terms of profits, the Saudi companies have done well. We will see more companies rising in the next few years

RIYADH: Saudi companies such as oil giant Aramco are displaying resilience in the face of the coronavirus pandemic because of reforms introduced before its arrival, say analysts.

The world’s largest oil company has become emblematic of wider corporate reforms triggered by the Saudi Vision 2030 blueprint for social and economic change.

Saudi Aramco this month appeared in the top five of the Forbes Global 2000 list, which ranks the world’s 2000 largest companies.

It comes as the world’s most profitable company reported profits on $88.2 billion last year.

This year’s rankings arrive amid a global pandemic which has devastated the earnings of some companies, improved the position of others and tested the resilience of all.

It has also shone a spotlight on the ability of the the Kingdom’s top companies to withstand the twin shock of the COVID-19 lockdown and the collapse of oil prices.

Saudi Aramco debuted on the prestigious Forbes list after completing the world’s largest initial public offering last year.

The rankings are based on a combination of sales, profits, market capitalization and assets. Three of the top five companies on the list are from China, including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in the top spot for the eighth straight year with more than $4.3 trillion in assets.

Forbes noted that many of the companies on its list have come through a particularly difficult first quarter as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or what it describes as “The Great Cessation.”

“Many companies and organizations have faced difficulties in managing and mitigating the impact of COVID-19 crisis. However, there are some companies that have prepared well and put in action plans to avoid this crisis with the least damage,” said Fahad Alfaifi, a Saudi-based strategy and business planning consultant.

The pandemic has come at a time of historic change in the Kingdom’s corporate landscape driven by economic reforms which form a major part of the Vision 2030 agenda. This aims to reduce the country’s reliance on oil revenues and stimulate investment in sectors of the economy that create new jobs for a youthful population.

This backdrop has meant many companies in the Kingdom were already changing the way they did business before the arrival of the pandemic and the collapse of oil prices created new challenges.

Last year’s annual Global Competitiveness Report, issued by the World Economic Forum, placed the Kingdom third among G20 counties and 11th globally

in terms of IT governance which rates a country’s ability to adapt digital technologies such as e-commerce and financial technology.

Such technology skills are becoming increasingly important for economies as they to re-calibrate and adapt to the post-pandemic world.

Nasser Al-Qarawee, the director of the Saudi Study and Research Center, attributed the success of some Saudi companies to the great achievements made by the private sector lately and predicted that more Saudi companies would eventually join Aramco on the Forbes list.

“The national economy has seen enormous improvements and development in terms of laws and legislation that have helped reduce restrictions and bureaucracy, while the government has worked at the same time on reducing dependency on oil. Vision 2030 will further cement the Kingdom’s strong presence globally and make it have a larger influence on global decisions, not only economically but also politically.”

Tawfiq Al-Swailem, CEO of the Gulf Bureau for Research and Economic Consultations, said that many Saudi companies would emerge from the pandemic in a strong position.

“In terms of profits, the Saudi companies have done well, although the entire world is living through a state of ferocious economic war,” he said. “We will see more Saudi companies rising in the next few years.”