Companies in the Mena region raised $629 million (Dh2.31 billion) in the first three months to March, up 57.1 per cent on year, according to Ernst and Young.

However, in terms of activity, it was a slow start to the year, with a 45.5 per cent decrease in the number of deals when compared to the same quarter last year.

“IPO activity was relatively slow in the first quarter, though it is expected to pick up during the last two quarters of this year. The increase in deal value year-on-year indicates that the IPO market performance is strong. The most important impetus for the regional IPO market will likely be from the privatisation drive across the region leading to the listing of government or quasi-government enterprises,” Mayur Pau, MENA Financial Services IPO Leader, EY, said in a statement.

Of the total of six deals, five were Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) in KSA, while Egypt recorded one IPO deal in the financial services sector.

In the UAE, the IPO pipeline looks promising with Emirates Global Aluminum, Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Etihad REIT planning to go public in 2018, the EY statement said.

“The economic reforms, market development initiatives and privatisation drive in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Kuwait will prepare the way for a buoyant MENA IPO market in the forthcoming quarters. The upcoming months are projected to show an improvement in volume, particularly with a strong pipeline of announced and rumoured IPOs,” Mayur said.