Initial Public Offering (IPO) activity began to show early signs of recovery towards the end of Q1 2012 in the six nation Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) stock markets. Investor confidence began to return to markets with share price levels generally improving across the markets, according to PwC, a leading international professional services organisation.
Regional stock exchanges ended the first quarter strongly, spurred by positive reported 2011 results, higher trading volumes and improved market sentiment. In all, there were two IPOs in Q1 2012 raising a total of USD 78m and both hosted on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul, the largest stock exchange by market capitalisation in the GCC region. Takween Advanced Industries, an industrial investment company, was the first listing of 2012 raising a total amount of USD 62m in January this year followed by Tokio Marine Saudi Arabia, which closed in March this year raising USD 16m. Although IPO activity improved in Q1 2012 compared to Q1 2011, which witnessed only one offering of USD 18m, both IPO volumes and offering values fell behind by 33% and 63% respectively, compared to Q4 2011, where three IPOs raised USD 212m. The first quarter of this year also saw NMC Health, a health-provider in the UAE, become the first Abu Dhabi based company to list on the premium listing segment of the London Stock Exchange raising USD 187m. Steven Drake, Head of PwC Capital Markets in the Middle East region, said:
“Despite evidence of improved activity on some regional stock markets, overall IPO volumes in the region are well below their potential. Saudi Arabia continues to lead the regional exchanges both in terms of volumes and amounts raised. We expect the trend to continue during 2012 with a number of significant offerings in the pipeline awaiting the right IPO window.”
On the European front, after a sustained period of market uncertainty and volatility, the IPO market is also showing some signs of recovery after a number of high-profile deals completed in the first quarter of 2012. A total of 58 IPOs raised USD 3bn on the European stock markets during the quarter compared to USD 1.2bn raised through 78 offerings in Q4 2011 and 95 offerings in Q1 2011 which raised a total of USD 4bn.
Average IPO offering value rose to USD 66m in the quarter compared to USD 22.6m in Q4 2011 and USD 52m in Q1 2011. Although activity remains muted compared to historical levels, the prospects for future IPOs have been boosted by encouraging trading levels of a number of recent issuers, and renewed market stability.
The GCC debt markets expanded further in Q1 2012 following recovery levels seen in Q4 2011, as issuers sought to take advantage of better funding costs and liquidity in the market. In the first quarter of this year, the UAE dominated corporate bond issuances in the GCC with Dolphin Energy issuing a USD 1.3bn bond and Emirates NBD raising USD 1bn. Both issuances received overwhelming investor appetite as demand grew in line with improving market sentiment. Qatar was the other prominent market for corporate bond issuances in Q1 2012 with Qatar National Bank and Doha Bank issuing bonds worth USD 1bn and USD 500m respectively.
The sukuk market in the GCC continued to flourish with Saudi Arabia leading GCC sukuk issuances for the first time and overtaking the UAE in Q1 2012. The USD 4bn sukuk issuance by the General Authority of Civil Aviation was the first sovereign issuance in Saudi Arabia and was followed by a number of corporate sukuk issuances in the Kingdom. Despite falling behind in the league tables, the UAE witnessed a number of sukuk issuances with Majid Al Futtaim raising USD 400m, Emirates Islamic Bank and First Gulf Bank both raising USD 500m amongst the notable issuances in Q1 2012.
Steve Drake added: “Bond and sukuk issuances have continue to receive strong investor interest which reflects continued interest in regional fixed income securities.. With the Eurozone crisis yet to stabilise and refinancing dates for maturing debt obligations fast approaching, we believe that GCC issuances will continue to attract strong regional and international interest.”