Damas plans merger and IPO - Emirates24|7

Damas plans merger and IPO



Damas, the largest gold jewellery retailer in the Middle East, is to offer a public listing by the end of this year and subsequently merge with a leading regional jewellery chain to create an international giant from the UAE, said a top official from the company.

Tawhid Abdullah, CEO of Damas, revealed to Emirates Business that the company is in advanced talks with another leading jewellery chain in the region for a potential merger. While he did not disclose the name of the potential partner, Abdullah said it could be within the GCC or an acquisition abroad.

Damas, with an annual sales turnover of $1.4 billion (Dh5.14bn) and net profit of $65 million in 2007, will complete the merger procedures with the unnamed company after going public by the end of 2008, Abdullah said.

The shares will be listed on the domestic stock market, he added.

“The plan is that Damas will become a listed company by year-end, following an initial public offering and the merger will definitely happen after the public issue. This is our 100th year of operation and the IPO and the merger are the right ways to celebrate our centenary,” he said.

The group, estimated to be worth Dh3.5bn, is planning an IPO reportedly in the range of Dh1bn and part of the money raised could be used for the proposed acquisition. Damas was started in 1907 and Abdullah is the fourth generation running the family-owned business. He is also the managing director of the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group. Damas is 70 per cent owned by four brothers of the Tawhid family and 30 per cent owned by two business groups from the UAE and one business group from Saudi Arabia.

Damas is planning to double its current 430 outlets and 5,000 employees in the UAE and outside within three years and is investing more than $750m for the expansion. It is also considering acquiring a jewellery outlet in central Europe.

After the IPO, the group will get more resources to go for an aggressive growth plan through acquisitions, Abdullah said.

The company is targeting new markets in Egypt, Turkey, North Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and China. P8