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Al Habtoor Group delays IPO


December 18, 2012 5:39 by

Al Habtoor Group, one of Dubai’s leading family-owned firms, has postponed plans to raise as much as $1.6 billion in an initial public offering of a quarter of the group on the Nasdaq Dubai bourse next year.

“There was a sharp discrepancy between what the group was expecting (in terms of price) and the reality of the underlying market here, a senior banking source said on Tuesday, adding several international banks had pitched for the IPO mandate.

“It is a wise move to back off if you are not really sure whether it can be pulled off. The equity markets are lacklustre globally and out in the region, there has been a major slump since the crisis,” the source said, declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Chairman Khalaf Al Habtoor said advisory firm Grant Thornton had valued the group at $6 billion, excluding some of its group’s hotel and shopping mall assets and its ownership in the joint venture with Australian group Leighton Holdings.

“I will continue to focus on best practice and growing the company in a sustainable way,” he said.

The Dubai-based company is one of the UAE’s biggest family businesses and a stock market float from the group was seen adding momentum to local equity markets which have struggled to attract new companies since the global financial crisis.

Al Habtoor said in September it would use the IPO proceeds to acquire hotels in Europe.

Market volatility and a reluctance among retail investors, burnt by the collapse in stock prices in the crisis, have been cited as factors behind the lack of new public offerings in the Gulf Arab region.

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