Pakistani firms to list in UAE by end-2006

DUBAI — By the end of 2006, 10 Pakistani companies currently listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange will list in the United Arab Emirates, a Pakistani official said.

Hanif Jakhura, chief executive of Pakistan’s Central Depository Company, the country’s central securities depository, will be in Abu Dhabi on September 18 to sign an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with officials from the Abu Dhabi Securities Market, Bilal Khan Pasha, commercial secretary at the Pakistani consulate in Dubai, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Jakhura will sign a similar memorandum with the Dubai Financial Market on September 20, he said.

”We expect the listings to take place within two to three months of signing the MoUs,” Pasha said.

Pasha said priority is being given to Pakistani companies in which UAE investors hold significant stakes. So far, there are firm plans to list three companies — United Bank Limited, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited and Bank Al Falah Limited, Pasha said.

”Other seven companies will be finalised before the MOUs are signed,” he added.

He said Messrs Enshaa, a joint venture between Al Futaim Group of the UAE and Pakistani shareholders is in the process of listing on Karachi Stock Exchange and could be among the final 10.

Abu Dhabi Group owns Bank Al Falah and has a 50 per cent stake in United Bank Limited while Emirates Telecommunications Corporation, or Etisalat, recently acquired a 26 per cent stake in PTCL with its management control.

”We have many companies that are interested in listing here. However, we are short-listing 10 from the banking, telecom, service and real estate sectors,” Pasha said. ”It took six months of negotiations with the DFM and ADSM authorities to get the final decision on listings,” said Syed Qaiser Anis, president of Pakistan Business Council Abu Dhabi.

”The commercial section of the Dubai Consulate and the Business Council have played the role of matchmaker between CDC and the UAE financial markets,” he said.

Anis said that in addition to listing shares on UAE stock exchanges, Pakistan intends to list bonds, mutual funds, and open- and closed-ended funds in the UAE. ”The Pakistani government has now allowed companies dealing in funds to invest 30 per cent of equity in non-Pakistani products,” he said, adding that this gives them the chance to seek listing on UAE financial markets.

”Offshore registration of these bonds and funds is one option we are looking at,” he added.

Anis said registering in the Dubai International Financial Centre financial free-trade zone is also a possibility. “If we register here, it will be a different ball game altogether,” he said, noting that companies would be able to list funds and bonds on other Gulf Cooperation Council markets, in addition to the UAE exchanges.

Pasha said the UAE’s large Pakistani population is “largely untapped,” and predicted that “listing of Pakistani companies here will change that.”

Pasha forecast that the listings will be equally beneficial to the UAE stock markets and Pakistani companies. “We have to tap the surplus investment capital in UAE,” he said.

PTCL shares closed 3.2 per cent higher on Tuesday, at Rs43 ($0.71). The company has a market capitalisation of Rs16.2 billion.

Shares in UBL, which has a market capitalisation of Rs83.59 billion, closed up 2 per cent at Rs83.59. Shares in Bank Al Falah, which has a market capitalisation of Rs15.3 billion, ended 0.1 per cent higher, at Rs38.40 on Tuesday.

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