RIYADH (AFP) – A share offer by Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank was 16 times oversubscribed late Sunday, in what one financial analyst called “the mother of all IPOs”.
The initial public offering by the NCB, which was hoping to raise $6 billion, is one of the largest in the world this year and the biggest in the kingdom’s history.
In preliminary figures on the final day of the offer, NCB said subscribers had reached 1.166 million for a value of 215.76 billion riyals ($57.54 billion).
Beginning on October 19, NCB offered 300 million shares to the Saudi public at 45 riyals each.
Final figures from the offer will be released within a few days, the bank said in a statement obtained by AFP.
“This is the mother of all IPOs,” said Beshr Bakheet of the privately held Osool and Bakheet Investment Company.
But he cautioned that the value is exaggerated because banks offered generous loans to people wishing to buy the shares.
They are expected to begin trading on the country’s Tadawul All-Shares Index, the largest Arab bourse, within one or two weeks.
Bakheet said the shares were sold at a discount and he expects their price to double from the offered 45 riyals when trading starts, potentially valuing the public portion of the issue at $7.2 billion.
An additional 200 million shares are allocated to the state pension fund.
While the value was unprecedented, the number of subscribers was slightly below normal for the kingdom. That figure could still rise to two or three million when final figures are in, Bakheet said.
NCB is the last of 12 Saudi banks to go public. Only three of them are fully compliant with Islamic sharia laws.
The investor interest came despite a ruling from the kingdom’s top Muslim cleric that the share offer is forbidden under Islam, which bans usury.
Chinese online giant Alibaba, which made its market debut in September, broke the record for the largest IPO offering when it raised $25.02 billion.