x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

After ditching UAE IPO Axiom eyes London listing

After scrapping plans for its UAE public offering Axiom Telecom is now considering listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Axiom Telecom is looking at listing on the London Stock Exchange just two months after attempts to float its shares in the UAE were scrapped.

"They are considering various options and one is to list London," said one source close to the company, who did not want to be named. "All the options are still on the table, with a preference for a couple of [locations]."

In November, the mobile phone retailer based in Dubai said it expected to sell up to a third of its shares to institutional investors on Nasdaq Dubai. But it abandoned its initial public offering (IPO) at the last minute, citing "market conditions and liquidity" concerns. The IPO was not open to retail investors.

It would have been the first offering in the UAE for almost two years and was expected to value the company at up to US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn). Axiom could not be reached for comment.

There are stringent requirements for listing on the FTSE 250, London's main benchmark index, which is tracked by many institutional investors. But listing outside of the top 250, which analysts say is more likely, could attract Mena-based and emerging market fund managers to buy into the stock.

London's exchange has been popular with international companies, particularly from lesser known markets such as Kazakhstan, for its highly liquid movement and strong volumes.

It gives companies the option to raise further capital later and gives access to a high number of institutional investors.

Mohammed Ali Yasin, the chief investment officer at CAPM Investment, said Axiom had expressed interest in London when it first announced the IPO. "[Listing outside the UAE] is an idea that international investment banks sell to local companies; institutional investors will better judge the fair value of those companies than in our markets," Mr Yasin said.

"But the success of any company is built on its success in the local market."

Deutsche Bank was the sole global co-ordinator and joint bookrunner for the public offering, which gauged most interest from the US.

But fewer than 100 institutional investors subscribed, a small number compared with offerings that have attracted the interest of thousands of investors elsewhere in the world.

Axiom had set a share price range of between $0.80 and $1.15, and said it would use $100 million of proceeds from the share sale and a $55m property sale to pay back part of $354m in existing credit lines.

fhalime@thenational.ae