Saudis set for biggest IPO since 2014 as retailer preps sale

Fawaz Alhokair Group owns franchise for brands like Banana Republic and Zara in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters pic)

RIYADH: Fawaz Alhokair Group, the Saudi retailer that owns the franchise for brands like Banana Republic and Zara, may raise as much as US$1 billion from the share sale of its malls unit in what would be the kingdom’s biggest initial public offering in five years.

Arabian Centres said Tuesday that it will sell 65 million existing shares and 30 million new shares and will list the shares on the Tadawul stock exchange.

The proceeds of the offering could “be in range of US$1 billion” and might start around April 28, Chief Executive Officer Olivier Nougarou said on a conference call. The company will use the money to reduce debt.

Saudi Arabia’s share sales have slowed as the kingdom’s economy grappled with lower oil prices. Listings by companies and real-estate investment trusts raised close to US$900 million last year, down from US$6.7 billion in 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Samba Capital, Morgan Stanley, NCB Capital and Goldman Sachs Group, Citigroup, Credit Suisse Group, EFG-Hermes Holding, Emirates NBD Capital and Natixis are managing Arabian Centres’ offering.

Two years later, discussions about the possible IPO were halted when the group’s billionaire co-founder Fawaz Al Hokair was among businessmen held in Saudi Arabia’s alleged corruption crackdown, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time. He was freed in January, 2018.

Of the more than 300 people held in the probe, only 64 were referred to the public prosecutor, the royal court said this year.