(Bloomberg) -- For anyone questioning the appetite for initial public offerings in the Persian Gulf, investors can’t get enough.
On Wednesday, Dubai Taxi Co. — the government’s first after a year hiatus — received more than $41 billion of investor orders for its $315 million offering and was 130 times covered, a record for a region that’s well used to eye-watering oversubscription numbers.
In Abu Dhabi, Adnoc Gas’ $2.5 billion IPO — the region’s biggest this year — was more than 50 times oversubscribed, while Saudi oil driller ADES Holding Co.’s $1.2 billion offering was almost 63 times covered.
“The demand for DTC’s issue is driven by an attractive valuation and the company’s strong position in a thriving city, which has experienced population growth in recent years,” said Christian Ghandour, senior portfolio manager at Al Dhabi Capital.
The unrelenting appetite for Middle East listings comes even as regional geopolitical tensions are high and as investors fret about high interest rates, volatility and economic growth. It also stands in sharp contrast to the subdued appetite seen for IPOs in other venues, from New York to London and Hong Kong,
The Dubai government’s fifth listing since it kicked off a privatization plan about two years ago was welcomed by investors who point to the city’s status as a post-Covid haven, which has led to an influx of crypto millionaires, Russians and financial professionals.
“Investors seem to like the fact that Dubai Taxi Co. stands in a favorable position to capitalize on the expansive mobility market, strategically aligning itself with Dubai’s flourishing economy and advantageous demographics,” said Faisal Hasan, chief investment officer at Al Mal Capital.
In Saudi Arabia, books for the $222 million IPO of MBC Group, the Middle East’s biggest broadcaster, were covered within an hour of opening on Thursday. The company is offering a 10% stake, or 33.25 million shares, at 23 riyals to 25 riyals apiece, valuing it at as much as $2.2 billion.
To be sure, the oversubscription levels are also partly driven by large pools of capital in the region and the relatively small stakes in companies that are being sold on average. At 25%, Dubai Taxi is on the larger end for the Gulf’s standards, but Adnoc Gas was just 5% and MBC is only selling a 10% stake.
The kingdom’s IPO market has held up despite a slow start to the year and amid market volatility after the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas in early October.
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