London: Emirates Global Aluminium, the largest aluminum producer in the Middle East, is preparing to sell shares amid a comeback in commodity prices, according to people familiar with the matter.

The UAE-based company is seeking advisers for a potential initial public offering on the local stock exchange as early as this year, the people said, asking not to be named as the details aren’t public. The UAE agreed to merge its two flagship state aluminum firms in 2013 to create EGA, with an enterprise value of about $15 billion (Dh55 billion).

A representative for Emirates Global Aluminium, which is jointly owned by Abu Dhabi’s sovereign fund Mubadala Investment Co. and the Investment Corp. of Dubai, declined to comment. No final decisions have been made, and the firm may decide to delay an IPO or not to list, the people said.

IPOs in the region may be headed for a revival as countries, including the UAE, work to make themselves less dependent on oil. Saudi Arabia, the largest Gulf Arab economy, is also taking steps to overhaul its economy, including plans for what could be the largest-ever IPO with the listing of Saudi Arabian Oil Co. Companies in the region raised just $1.4 billion from listings last year, compared with $2.9 billion in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Rising profit

EGA said profit last year rose about 10 per cent to 2.1 billion dirhams ($572 million) on record production. Output jumped 4.2 per cent to a record 2.5 million metric tonnes, making the UAE the fourth-biggest aluminum producer, the company said. EGA is the largest industrial company in the UAE outside of the oil and gas business.

EGA is also building a bauxite mine in Guinea and an alumina smelter in Abu Dhabi to secure raw materials needed to produce aluminum.

Investors are returning to the commodities sector amid a resurgence in prices. The London Metal Exchange index of six primary metals including aluminum has rallied about 28 per cent in the last 12 months. Aluminum gained 15 per cent in 2017.