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Europe's biggest Islamic bank to list shares in Dubai - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A view of the Burj Khalifa tower is seen in downtown Dubai, in this May 10, 2011 file photo (REUTERS/Jumana El-Heloueh/Files)

A view of the Burj Khalifa tower is seen in downtown Dubai, in this May 10, 2011 file photo (REUTERS/Jumana El-Heloueh/Files)

Dubai, Asharq Al-Awsat—Europe’s largest Islamic bank is in the process of becoming listed on Dubai’s NASDAQ bourse next month, and if successful will be the Gulf emirate’s first listing in over four years.

The Bank of London and The Middle East (BLME) announced its intention to list on NASDAQ Dubai under the name ‘BLME Holdings.’ The Sharia’a compliant Bank will be listing 195,733,691 shares on the exchange with no new capital being raised and no new shares being issued. The listing price is expected to be USD 2.571 for each consolidated share, implying a market capitalization of approximately USD 503 million.

In a statement obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat, BLME’s Chief Executive Officer, Humphrey Percy said, “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 GCC and look forward to growing along with the sector. With the Islamic finance industry’s global assets currently estimated at USD 1.1 trillion and predicted to exceed USD 2 trillion by the year 2015, this is a very exciting time for both BLME and the sector.”

BLME was founded in 2006 with the backing of Kuwaiti investors, including Boubyan Bank which held 21.8 percent of BLME shares as of December 2012.

According to a source familiar with the negotiations, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of an anonymity, “the long stretch of time between listings was a fallout from the global financial crisis, which hit Dubai hard.”

“Now with the economic recovery that Dubai and the GCC as a whole is enjoying, and the rebounding of the Dubai property market, this listing of a well-established bank is an indicator of confidence in the Dubai market, which is good news for everybody,” the source added.

The last company to list on either of Dubai’s two stock exchanges was Drake & Scull International (DSI) in 2009. However, the Dubai Financial Market General Index (DFMGI) has climbed 64 percent this year, more than any of the 50 largest equity markets, according to Bloomberg.

NASDAQ Dubai, the newest exchange, was set up in 2005, and is two-thirds owned by the older Dubai Financial Market. It is also the smallest and least liquid of the emirate’s two stock markets, with only seven listed equities, despite regulations and infrastructure that comply with international standards.

The new listing comes at a time of mixed economic signals. The International Monetary Fund warned earlier this year that Dubai risks another property bubble, and urged the government to intervene after prices rose by over 30 percent in the first six months of the year.