04 May 2008

-Future Pipe calls off IPO as investors baulk

Future Pipe Industries has cancelled its $487 million (Dh1.78 billion) initial public offering just days before it was due to list on the Dubai International Finance Exchange (DIFX).

In a carefully worded statement, the company said that "due to conditions in the equity capital market and recent events in the financial markets" it would not be proceeding with the IPO "at this time".

The shocking move comes just 32 days after Dubai-based Future Pipe announced its intention to sell 35 per cent of the company through an IPO, so the statement implies the decision has been taken following Depa's disappointing performance since listing on the DIFX just over a week ago. Meanwhile, a person close to the FPI deal said moribund trading on Dubai's flagship exchange also deterred international investors.

Future Pipe, which is owned by the Lebanese Makhzoumi family, would not comment further, so it is unclear whether the IPO has been permanently shelved or merely postponed.

Pricing for the IPO was due to be announced on Wednesday, while the retail offer closed on April 21.

Subscribers will now receive full refunds.

Future Pipe's decision is another setback for the beleaguered DIFX, which has so far failed to deliver on its promise to become a global exchange. Most analysts remain bullish on its long-term prospects, but a succession of bad headlines have lessened its lustre.

DP World's $5 billion November IPO was the largest ever completed in the Middle East and was heralded as the anchor listing to spark the dormant DIFX into action. However, DP World's shares have failed to live up to its billing and closed yesterday at $1.03, 21 per cent below its IPO price.

Interiors contractor Depa has suffered a similar fate, and ended yesterday 7.7 per cent below its debut mark.

"Future Pipe is a very good company so I am surprised that investors were not positive on the stock of the firm," said Robert McMillen, chairman of MAC Capital, a Dubai-based broker with licences to trade on all three UAE stock markets.

"Any good company executive would take the highest price the underwriters can get for them, so a lot is down to the involvement of the underwriters and how they structure the deal.

"Global markets are very depressed so I can understand the buoyancy of the UAE not being enough to support the FPI issue worldwide," he said.

McMillen was critical of the underwriters' inability to stimulate post-market trading in both DP World and Depa. "How can a firm that is 18 times oversubscribed not trade well in the secondary market? Something has gone wrong," he added.

However, McMillen stressed the IPO blues were not unique to the DIFX and warned companies across the globe are rethinking possible floatations in the present tough economic climate.
(business24/7)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.