(Bloomberg) -- The market for new share sales sprang to life in the Middle East, where investors snapped up all stock on offer in a taxi company in under an hour and put in orders worth $12 billion for a crypto-related firm, against the backdrop of a subdued market for global listings and the Israel-Hamas war.
The flurry of deals started early on Tuesday, as investors piled into Dubai Taxi Co.’s $315 million IPO — a deal that marked the emirate’s first privatization in a year. Meantime, the biggest Mideast health-care platform announced plans to list, while crypto mining hardware retailer Phoenix Group Plc said its $371 million IPO was about 33 times oversubscribed.
Later on Tuesday, the region’s largest broadcaster said it’s hired banks for an initial public offering in Saudi Arabia in a deal that’s set to add to the $3.2 billion raised so far this year from IPO’s in the biggest Gulf market.
The deals follow the $451 million IPO of Investcorp Capital Plc, an investment vehicle backed by the Middle East’s biggest alternative asset manager, which made its Abu Dhabi debut last week.
The slew of offerings in the Gulf come on the back of an 8% rally in the MSCI GCC Countries Index since a late October low. Regional stocks fell last month after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, but the immediate concerns that the war would spread in the Middle East have since abated.
About $8.4 billion has been raised through IPOs in the Middle East this year, which is down 54% from the bumper levels a year ago, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Still, all but one of the 12 listings raising at least $100 million have risen from their offer prices, the data show.
That contrasts with a gloomier picture elsewhere. In Europe and the US, barely half of the $100 million-plus IPOs this year are trading above their offer prices. The lackluster performance has pushed out hopes for a recovery of the IPO markets in those regions firmly into 2024.
To be sure, not all Middle Eastern deals have been slam dunks. Investcorp Capital’s shares haven’t closed a single day above the IPO price since their Friday debut after the deal was priced at the top of the range and increased in size.
Abu Dhabi’s benchmark index has also been somewhat of a regional underperformer, falling 7% so far this year — dragged down by some of its biggest companies after stellar rallies. That compares with a 26% jump in the Dubai index and a 5.1% rise in Saudi Arabia.
(Updates with MBC’s Saudi IPO in third paragraph)
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