Dubai: A lot is changing for UAE and Gulf family businesses, with governments bringing in new initiatives, rules and pathways for these legacy enterprises to fit in with the newer ways of doing things. One such reform has been to encourage these family conglomerates to think going public.
Against this background, what Al Ansari Financial Services will achieve with its 10 per cent stock market float goes way beyond being another successful IPO from the UAE. The move by the family enterprise, with its strong hold in the remittance space, becomes the pace setter for more of its peers to do the same. At least think along these lines.
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“We are embarking on this IPO journey to really protect the five-and-a-half decades of success we’ve had, preserve it and reposition the company for its next phase of growth,” said Rasheed Al Ansari, CEO of Al Ansari Financial Services, in a recent media briefing.
“It is very different when I go to new markets and new jurisdictions and say I’m a family business they talk to you differently than when you are a listed company and this is what we want to achieve.” Elsewhere in the Gulf, the big systemically important family groups have already made the changeover.
“A number of family-owned businesses have announced IPOs since 2021, including Ali Al-Ghanim Sons in Kuwait last year, while Saudi Arabia has a much bigger list of names including Nahdi Medical, AlKhorayef, Almunajem Foods, Jahez International and Theeb Rent-a-Car,” said Junaid Ansari, Senior VP of Investment Strategy & Research at Kuwait’s Kamco Invest. “Governments and regulators have formed specific rules and policies with an aim to make such businesses progress, provide employment and contribute to overall economic activity. By going public, these businesses share that success with a broader investor community in the region.
“This is the key reason why stock market regulators from time to time encourage these business to go for an IPO. A number of IPOs are in the pipeline in the Gulf, including a couple of family business. This includes Alghanim Industries in Kuwait, Al Ansari Exchange in the UAE.”
Al Ansari’s trip to the DFM has set off intense speculation as to which family business in the UAE will go public. But it may still require a fair bit of convincing to get them started on the process.
“There had been so much talk among family businesses about IPOs, but then something always happened to make them change their minds,” said an analyst. “Some businesses even made the move, only to later take the company back into the hands in full.”