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UAE telecom retailer Axiom eyeing 2010 IPO-sources

Deutsche Bank sole arranger on deal - source.


September 22, 2010 8:41 by

UAE-based retailer Axiom Telecom, which is 40 percent owned by a unit of conglomerate Dubai Holding, is eyeing an initial public offering for a listing on Nasdaq Dubai, the first IPO from the Gulf state in two years.

Deutsche Bank is the sole mandated arranger on the deal but other banks could also play a role, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The deal is expected to be announced next week, the source told IFR, a Thomson Reuters unit, without offering further details.

The Dubai-based mobile phone distributor has been eyeing a public offering since at least 2005. In 2007, its chief executive said the firm wanted to float shares by 2010.

Axiom was not immediately reachable for comment.

TECOM Investments, part of Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group (DHCOG), owns 40 percent of Axiom. DHCOG has interests in several telecoms firms, including a 19.5 percent stake in telecom provider Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. , also known as du.

DHCOG, itself a part of Dubai Holding, said in June it may resort to asset sales to deal with its debt after posting a $6.2 billion loss for 2009.

Dubai firms, weighed down by massive debt burdens, have been restructuring obligations as the emirate finds its footing after Dubai World’s debt crisis last year.

Two other sources told Reuters there had been market talk about Axiom Telecom in recent weeks and an IPO was expected.

“It is a company that has a nice equity story, it will be seen as a good model,” said a banker who did not want to be identified.

If successful, Axiom Telecom will be the UAE’s first IPO this year and the first since 2008. Market sentiment delayed another public offering that was scheduled for last June. Few details were available at the time.

Bankers say the telecoms and retail sector will lead an IPO revival in the Gulf as investors look to diversify their equity portfolio in the region.

After a sharp slump in IPOs in the last two years, Omani telecoms operator Nawras’ IPO opened for subscriptions on Sept. 15 in a test of whether deal pricing meshes with current market sentiment.

(Reporting by Rachna Uppal and David French; Editing by Amran Abocar and David Cowell)


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