Saudi Telecom shares debut on stock market

31 January 2003
The price of Saudi Telecomshares rose dramatically on 25 January - their first day of trading on the stock market - rising to a high of SR 250 ($67) from the SR 170 ($45) at which they were first offered to investors. However, prices fell back steadily throughout the week, finishing at a level of around SR 215 ($57) a share, which economists say is closer to their natural price.

'The original IPO [initial public offering] price contained a 30 per cent discount,' says Muhammad Younas Malick, senior economist at Jeddah-based The National Commercial Bank (NCB). 'What we are seeing here is a consolidation of the price as the smaller investors sell up.'

NCB estimates that 25-35 per cent of the original 800,000 share applicants were small-time investors seeking only to buy the minimum 10 shares. Traditionally, larger shareholders have tended to hold their stock longer.

There is another reason for the high turnover. 'SAMA [Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency - central bank] allowed applicants to borrow up to 50 per cent of the price of their shares,' says Malick. 'Those who borrowed were primarily smaller investors and many of them will offload their shares at the higher price to pay back their debts and still have a profit.'

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