Advisers selected for Economic City IPO

10 February 2006

HSBC with local affiliate Saudi British Bank has been appointed financial adviser on the initial public offering (IPO) of shares in the project company under formation to implement the SR 100,000 million ($26,670 million) King Abdullah Economic City scheme. The founding shareholders are led by Dubai-based Emaar Properties and include the local Aseer Company, Saudi Binladin Group and other local and UAE investors (MEED 23:12:05).

The IPO is being fast-tracked by the government, and the sponsors and advisers are aiming to bring the deal to market by the end of March. The company, expected to be called Emaar KSA, will be capitalised at about SR 8,500 million ($2,267 million) and discussions are under way about whether to launch it as a closed joint stock company with the IPO taking the form of a capital increase or to launch it as a public joint stock company. Baker & McKenzie is acting as legal adviser. On offer will be 30 per cent of the firm's capital. No IPOs in the kingdom have so far been open to foreigners. However, the high level of UAE participation could make this a possibility. 'This would be the perfect deal to open up subscription more widely for the first time,' says one analyst. King Abdullah Economic City will be the largest single private real estate investment in the kingdom. It will cover an area of 55 million square metres at Rabigh and will include tourist, residential, industrial, educational and financial elements.

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