x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Just Falafel brings in Arqaam Capital for IPO guidance

Just Falafel, the UAE-based fast-food chain, has hired Arqaam Capital as the lead adviser on its initial public offering on the Nasdaq Dubai. A listing is expected by the end of the year.

Just Falafel has now 41 restaurants and more than 720 franchise agreements in 19 countries since being started in 2007. Above, customers try out some falafel in Covent Garden in London. Stephen Lock for The National
Just Falafel has now 41 restaurants and more than 720 franchise agreements in 19 countries since being started in 2007. Above, customers try out some falafel in Covent Garden in London. Stephen Lock for The National

Just Falafel, the UAE-based fast-food chain, has hired Arqaam Capital as the lead adviser on its initial public offering on the Nasdaq Dubai.

“The valuation work is under process and we expect a listing by the end of the year,” said a source familiar with the deal.

Arqaam, the Dubai-based investment bank, and Just Falafel declined to comment when contacted by The National. The work on the share sale is also understood to involve Menacorp, an Abu Dhabi investment company. Menacorp also declined to comment.

“Going public is again a testimony that Just Falafel’s management is thinking to capture a bigger opportunity and maximise their returns,” said Tariq Qaqish, the head of asset management at Al Mal Capital, a Dubai-based investment bank. “We see this as very positive to the ongoing success of UAE dynamics that adds value to the underlying economy. We still have no details on the valuations but we do believe the IPO will attract solid attention.”

Just Falafel was set up by investors including the Lebanese entrepreneur Mohamad Bitar in Abu Dhabi in 2007. Its popularity has flourished among consumers, allowing the food chain to grow to 41 restaurants and more than 720 franchise agreements in 19 countries, according to its website. In January, it opened its first outlet in London’s Covent Garden as part of a larger plan to open 200 stores across Britain.

Falafel is a traditional Arab food. Made of ground chickpeas, it is a deep-fried patty that is served in a pita.

Just Falafel’s plan to go public was revealed last month. The company selected Nasdaq Dubai over the Dubai Financial Market because its major shareholder did not want to sell more than 25 per cent of its shares.

Nasdaq Dubai is Dubai’s second bourse, whose regulations and infrastructure comply with international standards. The bourse has seven listed companies, whose shares are listed in US dollars. Earlier this year, Nasdaq Dubai said it was planning to create a new IPO market for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Shares listed on the UAE’s three stock markets, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and Dubai Financial Market and Nasdaq Dubai, have rallied this year amid reignited investor interest for equities boosted by a recovery in the country’s property and banking sectors.

The FTSE Nasdaq Dubai UAE 20 Index has surged by almost 60 per cent year to date.

The DFM General Index has rallied almost 80 per cent this year, while the ADX General Index has risen 46 per cent over the same period.

halsayegh@thenational.ae