Will the Dubai Financial Market be the one to host an Averda listing? Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Dubai:-based Averda is exploring an IPO in Saudi Arabia or the UAE, the latest firm seeking to join a wave of listings in the Gulf. The provider of waste-disposal services held merger talks with US blank-check firm Better World Acquisition Corp. earlier this year, but those discussions have been abandoned.

It's not immediately clear why the SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) talks fell through. After booming during the pandemic, the market for blank-check (or SPAC) companies has cooled sharply due to tightening regulatory oversight, poor trading and investor fatigue.

So far, the Gulf has defied a global slowdown in IPOs, while Russia's conflict in Ukraine, soaring inflation and hawkish central banks curb risk appetite elsewhere. At the same time, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have stepped up efforts to attract foreign investors by opening up their economies and listing state-backed assets.

Led by CEO Malek Sukkar, Averda is one of the largest waste-management firms in the Middle East and Africa. The business has in the past considered an IPO and sold a 33 per cent stake to Bahrain-based private equity firm Growthgate Capital in 2008.

With operations from South Africa to India, Averda has more than 60,000 clients in sectors including oil and gas, automotive and hospitality, its website shows. Its services include street cleaning, bin collection and disposal of hazardous and household waste.