(Bloomberg) -- MBC Group, the Middle East’s biggest broadcaster, received more orders than shares available for its initial public offering for as much as 831 million riyals ($222 million), highlighting that demand for regional listings remains strong.

Institutional investor books were covered throughout the range and indicated demand exceeds deal size, according to terms of the deal seen by Bloomberg on Thursday. That was within one hour of the company starting to take orders.

MBC is offering a 10% stake in the Saudi IPO, or 33.25 million shares, at 23 riyals to 25 riyals apiece, valuing it at as much as $2.2 billion. MBC will take institutional investor orders until Dec. 6, according to a statement.

Founded in London in 1991, MBC was the first privately-owned pan-Arab satellite TV group before the Saudi government took a 60% stake. Founder and chairman Waleed Al Ibrahim — one of the kingdom’s richest businessmen — has the remaining shares. 

Saudi Arabia’s IPO market picked up at the start of the summer and share sales have held up well despite market volatility after the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas in early October. About $3.2 billion has been raised through Saudi listings this year, a 53% decrease year-on-year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Even though volumes are down compared to 2022’s blockbuster levels, offerings in the Persian Gulf account for over a third of the listing proceeds in all of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the data show.

Shahid

MBC has 13 free-to-air TV channels and owns video-streaming service Shahid, which is the biggest such platform in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of subscribers, according to its prospectus.

The firm’s revenue was 3.49 billion riyals ($930 million) last year and it has over 150 million viewers a week. While Shahid’s contributions to its revenues have been increasing, the platform has yet to turn a profit.

MBC recorded a profit of almost 48 million riyals in 2022, a 94% decrease from the previous year, as it ramped up investments in digital content to draw more subscribers to Shahid.

MBC plans to use the proceeds from the IPO to repay debt, enhance its financial flexibility and invest in new content for Shahid and other initiatives.

Pricing is slated for Dec. 12, according to terms of the deal seen by Bloomberg News. Retail buyers will be able to bid for the IPO from Dec. 14-18. The trading date is still to be determined but is likely to be in 2024, the terms showed.

Al Ibrahim was among dozens of billionaires locked up in Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton in 2017 as part of what the government called an anti-corruption campaign, but which was seen by others as a shake-down of some of the country’s wealthiest businesses and potential rivals.

After the emptying of the Ritz, the government took control of 60% of MBC — including shares belonging to the family of entrepreneur Saleh Kamel — while Al Ibrahim retained his 40% share.

MBC moved its headquarters to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2002, and then to Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh. 

HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and SNB Capital are financial advisers, bookrunners and underwriters for the IPO, while GIB Capital is a financial adviser to the major shareholders.

Read More: Middle East Sees Year-End IPO Rush, Despite War and Global Gloom

--With assistance from Matthew Martin.

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