Surprisingly given the habitual summer exodus, both the volume and value of shares traded increased substantially in July. According to figures from Kuwait-based Global Investment House
, volume leapt in July by 67.4 per cent while the value changing hands rose by a similarly impressive 19.4 per cent. The climb was largely driven by Ahli United Bank (AUB)
, trade in the shares of which quadrupled during the month. It has been a few weeks of contrasting fortunes for the bank. On the one hand, first-half profits were reported up 25 per cent to $79 million, and AUB increased its stake in Bank of Kuwait & the Middle East
, an early regional conquest, by 19.2 per cent to 75 per cent. On the other, the Central Bank of Egypt rebuffed its planned bid for state-owned Banque Misr
The banking sector, the market driver, is in general experiencing mixed fortunes. All the major banks have announced healthy six-month earnings growth. Yet National Bank of Bahrain’s
shares had risen in price by nearly 19 per cent in the year to early August – reaching a price/earnings (PE) ratio of 19 – while shares in Bank of Bahrain & Kuwait (BBK)
have fallen in value by almost the same amount. But BBK’s stock could be one to watch, with market rumours rife that a takeover by Commercial Bank of Kuwait
could be on the cards. BBK’s management have for some time spoken of possible moves to merge with a fellow GCC bank.
The BSE’s banking sector is soon to welcome back a prodigal son. Trading resumes of shares in BMB Investment Bank
on 4 September after the successful completion of a capital increase and long-awaited loan refinancing. Another recent new listing has deepened the bond market on the bourse, as Bahrain Commercial Facilities Company’s
recently launched BD 10 million ($26.3 million) five-year bond was offered to the secondary market in early July, following closely the listing of a $100 million sukuk issue by Kuwait’s Commercial Real Estate Company
The main upcoming event titillating investors is the IPO of shares in Nass Corporation
, the holding company for 10 of the businesses forming local family business the Nass Group
. A private placement of 24 per cent of the firm’s BD 20 million ($52.6 million) capital was closed in late June and the public offering of a further 24 per cent of shares is due to come to market around October.