London Stock Exchange ‘market of choice’ for Middle East companies


London : With Kuwaiti private equity fund Global MENA Financial Assets (GMFA) Friday becoming the latest Middle East company to get listed on the London Stock Exchange, this city is emerging as the market of choice for companies from the region, according to Tracey Pierce, LSE’s head of equity primary markets.

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The fund’s listing on the LSE’s Main Market comes following an IPO to raise $500 million (about 252 million pounds or Rs.21 billion). The fund has been floated by Kuwaiti investment bank Global Investment House (GIH) which last May became the first Kuwaiti company to join the exchange’s Main Market.

The fund is to be managed by Global Capital Management, a unit of GIH. GMFA, in which GIH will retain a 29.99 percent stake, is a closed-end fund targeting investments in the Middle East and North African (MENA) financial sector in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Earlier this month, Commercial Bank of Qatar became the first Qatari company in the last 10 years to be listed on the LSE’s Main Market.

So far, seven Middle East companies have joined the LSE this year, raising 1.5 billion pounds (about $3 billion or Rs.126 billion) – the same as the total raised during the whole of 2005, the previous record year for fund raising by Middle East companies, the LSE said.

“The stream of flotations, including a number of firms from the region’s flourishing financial sector, demonstrates that London is now the market of choice for Middle East companies looking to transform themselves into global leaders, as London provides access to an unrivalled pool of international investment,” Pierce said.

Apart from Israel, there are now 36 Middle East companies on the LSE, with a combined market cap of more than 13 billion pounds (about $26 billion or Rs.1092 billion), while there are none listed on NYSE Euronext or Nasdaq.

The seven Middle East companies that have joined the LSE so far this year are Kentz (Kuwait), Panceltica (Qatar), Depa (Dubai), Palm Hills (Egypt), Global Investment House (Kuwait), Commercial Bank of Qatar and Global MENA Financial Assets (Kuwait).