Oman expects only two IPOs this year

Only two companies are expected to float on the Omani stockmarket this year, the bourse regulator said yesterday, naming Al Khalili Group and Qatar Telecom's local unit.

"So far only two IPO issues are expected to come out this year," said Yahya Al Jabri, Executive President of the Capital Market Authority (CMA).

"The Al Khalili Group's IPO is on finalisation and the Nawras [IPO] will soon come out," he added, without elaborating.

Gulf IPO activity came to a halt in 2009 as a result of the financial crisis with the total value of IPOs in the Middle East and North Africa falling 83 per cent, according to a report by consultancy Ernst & Young.

Four major Omani companies – Hasan Juma Backer Trading and Contracting, Oman Merchant Bank, Al Argan Towell Investment Company and Barr Al Jissah Resort – all shelved plans for bourse listings last year due to weak market conditions.

"The market sentiment has improved so far this year due to higher government budget spending and global recovery," said Anil Kumar, analyst at Fincorp said.

Al Khalili Group, a family-owned diversified industrial group, is planning to sell a 40 per cent stake in a public offering, lead manager Oman Arab Bank said in January.

Telecom operator Nawras must also float 40 per cent this year as part of its original licence agreement.

A source at the CMA told Reuters that Khalili's IPO could begin in the next three weeks with Nawras expected within three months.

"I see the Nawras IPO in April while Al Argan Towell Investment Co together with a major power company may follow later during the year," Kumar said.

Oman's share market index MSI is the best performing in the Gulf region, up almost seven per cent.

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