June 21, 2013 10:12 am

Al Noor Hospitals float raises £221m and hints at IPO appetite

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The largest private healthcare provider in Abu Dhabi has floated on the London Stock Exchange, selling at least £221m of shares in an initial public offering that valued the group at £672m.

Al Noor Hospitals on Friday said it had sold 38.5m shares at an offer price of £5.75 each, excluding an “overallotment option” that could lead to more shares being sold.

Its move is a further sign of a pick-up in the London IPO market, following the stock market debut earlier this month of Partnership Assurance, which specialises in selling pension annuities to sick retirees.

Other flotations in the UK capital this year include: Esure, the motor insurer; Countrywide, the estate agency; and the housebuilder Crest Nicholson.

Al Noor is following in the footsteps of NMC Health, another Abu Dhabi-based healthcare provider that floated in London in 2012. NMC’s shares are now trading at just over 300p, up from an offer price of 210p.

Al Noor’s willingness to travel to London rather than seek a local listing also highlights how IPO activity has remained muted in the Gulf since the onset of the financial crisis, in spite of a rebound in local stock markets.

Al Noor, which was founded in 1985, runs hospitals and medical centres in Abu Dhabi and Oman. It generated net profit of $60.5m in 2012, on sales of $324m.

The group wants to expand into other parts of the United Arab Emirates, such as Dubai and Sharjah, while also harbouring longer-term plans to target the broader Gulf region.

A little more than half of the shares in the IPO were sold by existing shareholders: Ithmar Capital, the Dubai-based private equity investor, and co-founders Sheikh Mohammed Bin Butti and Dr Kassem Alom.

It plans to use the £97m proceeds of selling new shares to finance future growth, including acquisitions.

Dr Alom, who is also chief executive, said the group’s expansion would “include the development of existing hospitals, growing our network of outpatient medical centres and pursuing organic and acquisition growth”.

Unconditional trading in Al Noor shares on the main market of the London Stock Exchange is expected to start on June 26. The company will have a free float of 33 per cent, excluding any exercise of the overallotment option.

Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs acted as joint sponsors and global co-ordinators for the float, while also acting as joint bookrunners with HSBC. Rothschild acted as financial adviser.

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