x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

First IPO planned on Nasdaq Dubai since 2008

The Nasdaq Dubai stock exchange is in line for its first public share sale since 2008, after the little-known RegisCard, based in London, yesterday announced its intention to list.

The Nasdaq Dubai stock exchange is to see its first public share sale since 2008, after RegisCard announced its intention to list. (Paulo Vecina/The National)
The Nasdaq Dubai stock exchange is to see its first public share sale since 2008, after RegisCard announced its intention to list. (Paulo Vecina/The National)

The Nasdaq Dubai stock exchange is in line for its first public share sale since 2008, after the little-known RegisCard, based in London, yesterday announced its intention to list.

The company announced an agreement with Global Equity Partners to manage an initial public offering on the bourse as it seeks to tap opportunities in the financial services sector in emerging markets.

“The company has made several acquisitions and developed software to introduce prepaid debit cards and discount cards to the international community.

Many countries do not yet offer prepaid debit cards of the sort that have been common in the United States for many years,” the company said. “Recent successes and the volume of inquiries from other countries has prompted the company to pursue the IPO offering.”

If successful, the listing could breathe new life into the Nasdaq Dubai, where only two stocks are currently traded following the suspension of Damas International on Tuesday.

The listing is expected to take place within 75 days, the company said. RegisCard will also pursue a listing on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London. Nasdaq Dubai declined to comment.

The bourse has struggled to convince companies to list, said Mohammed Ali Yasin, an independent analyst and former chief investment officer of CAPM Investment.

“Nasdaq Dubai, in general, needs to be pumping new blood into it with new IPOs,” he said. “It’s suffered from companies pulling out rather than listing.”

However, RegisCard’s lack of regional presence may make it difficult to attract investor interest, Mr Yasin added. “They’re starting on the back foot for this listing,” he said. “Unless they do a lot of roadshows, they’ll struggle to find people following them and participating in the IPO.”

RegisCard has a small presence in the Palestinian Territories and is eyeing between one and two acquisitions in the Middle East in the months ahead, said Peter Smith, the chief executive of Global Equity Partners, which is advising RegisCard on the deal.

“The company is going to build a Middle East presence over the next 18 to 24 months,” he said.

“Nasdaq Dubai struggles with liquidity, but a lot of companies don’t take advantage of the investor relations opportunities in the region,” Mr Smith added. “You’ve got to tell people what you have and tell your story.”

The company did not disclose how much it was seeking to raise or how much of its shares it was planning to sell, saying these issues were still under negotiation.

It is registered with Companies House in the UK and is listed as “active”, although its latest accounts submission of September30 it is listed as “dormant”.

There is scant information in the details available except for a change of address from Rear of Knights Garden Centre, Limpsfield Road, Warlingham, Surrey to 34 Westway, Caterham, Surrey. made in September.

The company names Paul Holmquist as director, alongside Laurence Douglas Adams, who resigned from the company in 2010.

The financial crisis has sapped the numbers of companies willing to list on the UAE’s exchanges.

Axiom Telecom, a mobile-phone retailer, pulled its listing on the Nasdaq Dubai at the 11th hour in December 2010 after slack demand from investors.

The last successful IPO from the Emirates was NMC Health, a healthcare provider based in Abu Dhabi, which raised £117 million (Dh668m) by listing on the London Stock Exchange in April.

However, NMC’s move drew criticism from Jeff Singer, the chief executive of Nasdaq Dubai, who said local companies should be encouraged to list locally before doing so internationally.

NMC said access to emerging-market investors and healthcare analysts, alongside the lack of liquidity on local exchanges, had prompted it to seek a listing in London.

The most recent listing on the Nasdaq Dubai exchange was Damas International, a jewellery company, in July 2008.

But amid a drought of liquidity, Damas was suspended from trading on Tuesday after being bought out by a consortium of investors including Mannai Corporation and EFG Hermes.

The move took the number of listed stocks from three to two, alongside a handful of bonds and depositary receipts.

The remaining stocks are DP World, a ports operator, and Depa, an interior design company.

ghunter@thenational.ae

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