Oman's OQ Gas Networks plans Muscat's biggest IPO in almost two decades

OQGN is the exclusive operator of Oman’s gas transport system

By Reuters

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The Muscat Securities Market. Photo for illustrative purposes only. — File photo
The Muscat Securities Market. Photo for illustrative purposes only. — File photo

Published: Mon 4 Sep 2023, 3:52 PM

Last updated: Mon 4 Sep 2023, 3:55 PM

Oman’s OQ Gas Networks (OQGN), the pipelines business of state oil giant OQ, said on Monday it planned to float up to 49 per cent of its shares, in what is expected to be the biggest initial public offering in the sultanate in almost two decades.

The offering, which begins this month, will give investors with access to growth in the company that holds a natural monopoly over essential gas transport in the country, the company said in a statement.

As the exclusive operator of Oman’s gas transport system, OQGN supplies natural gas to power plants, free zones, industrial clusters, LNG complexes and other customers.

The IPO could raise between $700 million and $800 million, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, which would make it the largest since Oman Telecommunications (Omantel) raised 288 million riyals ($748 million) by selling a 30 per cent stake in 2005.

OQGN’s managing director Mansoor Al Abdali declined to comment on how much the IPO is expected to raise, but said the largest IPO in Oman’s history was Omantel.

“We might be competing with that level,” he said in a call with reporters.

OQ, directly and indirectly through Oman Energy Trading Company Limited and Oman Oil Services Limited, is offering up to 49 per cent of the shares, the document said.

The selling shareholders reserve the right to amend the size at any time before the end of the subscription period. Immediately after the offering, OQ will continue to hold a minimum of 51 per cent.

OQGN will not receive any proceeds from the sale of the shares in the offering, according to the statement.

The shares are expected to list on the Muscat Stock Exchange in October.

The company plans to pay a semi-annual dividend in cash to investors after the offering. A first dividend of 33 million riyals for the first nine months of 2023 is estimated to be paid around next January, and a second dividend of 11 million for the last three months of 2023 will be paid around April next year.

Reuters first reported the IPO plans last May.

The plan follows the flotation of OQ’s oil drilling business, Abraj Energy Services, in March which raised $244 million by selling a 49 per cent stake.

Oman follows Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia in looking at sales of stakes in energy assets, capitalising on a rebound in crude prices to attract foreign investors and boost interest on their respective exchanges.

OQGN’s IPO is part of a divestment programme by the Sultanate’s sovereign wealth fund, the Oman Investment Authority, Monday’s statement quoted OQ’s Group Chief Executive Talal Al Awfi as saying.

“The listing of OQGN, which owns and operates critical gas transportation infrastructure in Oman, is in line with this ambition, while enriching the dynamically developing Omani stock market,” Al Awfi said.

Seen as one of the Gulf’s weaker economies, Oman is primarily reliant on hydrocarbon revenue despite some reforms and plans to diversify its economy.

The reforms and a shake-up of state entities are being driven by Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, who took the throne in early 2020 after the death of Sultan Qaboos.

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