Emerging Markets Property Group, which operates classifieds websites popular with expatriates in the UAE, is considering an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company, which runs the Dubizzle and Bayut websites and is backed by tech investor Prosus NV, is set to hire Rothschild & Co. for the potential listing in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public.
Details of the offering such as the size and timing are still preliminary and may change, the people said. Other banks may still be invited to pitch to work on the deal.
Representatives for EMPG weren’t immediately available for comment and Rothschild declined to comment.
An IPO by EMPG would test investor appetite for startups in the UAE where listings have been dominated by companies in sectors with high dividend yields. Globally, tech companies have struggled to raise funds and seen valuations plunge as high inflation and rising interest rates dented appetite for loss-making, high-growth firms.
Most recent offerings in the UAE have been by state-owned companies, although there are signs that more private and family-owned companies are considering them, despite market volatility and subdued valuations. Private school operator Taaleem Holdings PSC raised $204 million in a Dubai listing last year.
While IPOs have struggled in the rest of the world, offerings are holding up in the Gulf. Abu Dhabi’s main energy company recently raised $2.5 billion from the listing of its gas business, the largest IPO globally this year. That comes after the region had its second-best year on record in 2022 thanks to an oil price surge, a privatisation drive and political stability.
Remittances and money exchange firm Al Ansari Financial Services this week priced its $210 million Dubai IPO in one of the first instances of a family-owned businesses going public in the UAE. It was offering a dividend yield of almost 8 per cent, something most tech companies can’t afford to do.
EMPG owns 10 classifieds portals across the Middle East, North Africa, and South and Southeast Asia, according to its website. Many of its portals are property-focused, including Bayut. Dubai’s property market has been booming thanks to the government’s handling of Covid and liberal visa policies which have attracted foreign buyers.
Last year, EMPG raised $200 million in a round led by Jared Kushner’s Affinity Partners. KCK, Acacia Partners and existing investor Prosus also took part in the funding. At the time the CEO Imran Ali Khan said the company would turn its focus to “preparing for an IPO in the near future”.