EconSource: UAE Issues New Companies Law to Spur IPOs

The United Arab Emirates has issued a companies law that eases existing rules for initial public offerings (IPOs), paving the way for more listings on the country’s main exchanges. The new law lowers the minimum free float for companies considering an IPO from 55 percent to 30 percent. The previous threshold was a stumbling block for companies reluctant to sell a majority stake in their businesses. The law also allows issuers to sell existing equity, while previously only new shares could be sold. In addition, IPOs can now be carried out through a book-building process, while traditionally equity offerings were done at a fixed price. [Wall Street Journal, 4/2/2015]

Syria slashes imports to save dwindling foreign reserves
Syria’s government is taking new measures to slash imports and prop up exports. Importers require government licenses that allow them to request a favorable exchange rate at the Syrian central bank, but the government has issued fewer licenses in recent months and declined to offer importers favorable rates. Two-thirds of import licenses granted in the last quarter of 2014 went to industries considered essential, including fuel, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals. The Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR) estimates losses to the Syrian economy totaling $202.6 billion. [AFP, 4/2/2015]

Arabtec, Egypt agree on terms for first phase of housing project
Arabtec has agreed to terms with Egypt’s Ministry of Housing for the first phase of an almost $40 billion plan to construct one million homes across the country. The first phase of the project will consist of 100,000 units to be built in Egypt’s al-Obour and Badr districts. Arabtec did not say how many phases will be part of the project or when it might conclude terms with Egypt on building the remaining 900,000 units. [Reuters, 4/2/2015]

First Saudi sovereign debt since 2007 could be seen this year
Saudi Arabia may issue sovereign debt for the first time since 2007 this year after oil’s decline sent its cash reserves plunging. The country’s central bank assets tumbled by about $20 billion in February, the largest monthly drop since 2000. Saudi Arabia may take advantage of record low interest rates and ample bank liquidity to issue debts. [Bloomberg, 4/1/2015]

Also of interest
Egypt’s new city: more questions than answers | Daily News Egypt
Egypt to look again at trading bonds on Cairo stock market | Reuters
Moody’s affirms Saudi Arabia’s Aa3 rating | CPI Financial
Gulf stock markets rise after oil’s rally | Reuters
Qatar’s credit rating expected to be unchanged this year | Gulf Times
Libyan budget deficit could reach LD30 billion | Libya Monitor (subscription)
Tunisia to host EBRD international business conference | Tunisia Live