Islamic bank listing on NASDAQ Dubai will boost emirate’s financial resurgence
The Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME), Europe’s largest Islamic bank, is set to make its debut on NASDAQ Dubai, giving the emirate its first listing since Dubai’s debt crisis took hold.
BLME’s listing is expected to give it a market cap of $503 mn, though it doesn’t plan to raise any new capital. The Sharia’a-compliant bank, which is based in London but has a client base spanning the UK and Gulf countries, says the time to list was right, given the current economic climate and the ‘increasingly prominent role of Dubai in Islamic finance’.
Fahmi Alghussein, partner at HK Advisory Services in Dubai, describes the news as a ‘positive sign’.
‘Dubai has benefited from the Arab Spring,’ he says, explaining that many individuals have taken their money from other countries and ‘chosen Dubai as a safe haven for it.’ At the same time, tourism has seen a boost from ‘heavy-consuming Saudi and Kuwaiti nationals’ coming to the emirate.
‘Dubai has certainly improved since 2009 and we hope to see this continue for some time across the main supporting industries of the economy, such as shipping, travel, tourism and trade, which have been the main drivers of the emirate for decades,’ says Alghussein. ‘Given the performance of the stock market [this year] and the return of local retail, which dominates the daily turnover on the local exchange, I can only guess that the future is bright.’
‘The Dubai Financial Market is up 64 percent year to date, and the NASDAQ Dubai UAE 20 Index is up 65 percent,’ reports the Financial Times.
IPO activity has remained slow however, despite a raft of rule changes designed to make it easier for companies to list in Dubai.
Announcing the bank’s intention to list, and citing the emirate’s ‘excellent links to regional and global investors’, CEO Humphrey Percy says: ‘With the opening of our representative office in Dubai, we are now well positioned at the heart of the Islamic finance industry across the UK and Gulf Co-operation Council and look forward to growing along with the sector. With the Islamic finance industry’s global assets currently estimated at $1.1 tn and predicted to exceed $2 tn by 2015, this is a very exciting time for both BLME and the sector.’
BLME’s listing will be the first for the emirate since 2009, and the first for NASDAQ Dubai since 2008.