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Axiom IPO might exclude retail investors -sources

Weak retail demand for recent Gulf IPOs.

November 10, 2010 9:43 by

The initial public offering (IPO) of UAE mobile handset retailer Axiom Telecom could exclude retail investors, sources said on Tuesday, after weak retail interest for recent Gulf IPOs.

Axiom Telecom announced plans in October to list a 35 percent stake on Nasdaq Dubai in what would be the first IPO from the United Arab Emirates in nearly two years.

At the time it was not yet decided what portion of the shares would be allocated to retail investors and how much would be reserved for institutional investors.

Three sources familiar with the matter said Axiom could opt for an all-institutional offering, and two sources said the retailer might also consider a strategic investment, but this would be through the IPO process.

An Axiom representative was not immediately available for comment.

Axiom is expected to announce a price range for the shares to be listed after the Eid religious holiday break, and one source close to the talks said the likely date was Nov. 22 and the offer would close in early December.

The Gulf Arab IPO market has returned to life in recent weeks after a virtual two-year standstill, but sellers are not getting an easy ride.

Both Omani telecom operator Nawras and Aluminium Bahrain priced their recent IPOs at the lower end of the respective price ranges, and both drew subdued retail interest.

(Reporting by David French in London and Rachna Uppal in Dubai; Editing by Will Waterman)

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