It is understood that the lead arrangers are now working on a schedule aimed at completing Almarai’s IPO before the end of the year. Almarai is the world’s largest integrated dairy foods company, with a herd of 45,000 livestock, more than 4,000 staff and processing capacity of 1.4 million litres a day of milk. The company’s share of the fresh dairy markets in the GCC is about 40 per cent. Almarai, in which the local Savola Grouphas a 40.3 per cent stake, is also the kingdom’s largest food exporter.

A mandate is also expected to be awarded before the end of July to lead arrange the IPO of NCCI, due before year-end. Several local and regional banks are pursuing the mandate for the insurance company, which has an authorised capital of SR 500 million ($133 million) and recorded total assets of SR 2,200 million ($587 million) at the end of 2003.

The local market is awaiting several other IPOs, including that of Marafiq, which has already approached a number of local and international banks to be appointed to advise on the mandate. Banking sources say Marafiq aims at launching the IPO before the end of the year. Also in line for an IPO is Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden), which in May was approved for flotation by the Supreme Economic Council (SEC). However, the company has yet to complete its internal restructuring process.

Much anticipated, but not likely to happen in 2004, is the IPO of Jeddah-based National Commercial Bank.