The firm could seek to raise as much as $2 billion, sources say. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi: LuLu Group International, which operates one of the Middle East’s largest hypermarket chains, has appointed banks for what could be one of the biggest initial public offerings in the Gulf this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

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The firm has picked Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC, Citigroup Inc., Emirates NBD Capital and HSBC Holdings Plc to work on the planned offering in Abu Dhabi, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public. Moelis & Co. is acting as an independent financial adviser.

The firm could seek to raise as much as $2 billion, the people said. No final decisions have been made on timing or valuation, they said.

The listing is expected to happen in the second half of this year, Bloomberg News reported in February. The firm is also weighing a dual listing in Riyadh, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

Representatives for Lulu, Citi and ENBD declined to comment. ADCB and HSBC weren’t immediately available for comment.

LuLu’s IPO could be one of the more high-profile listings in the Gulf this year, which has been a busy market for share sales over the past two years. Still, most of the IPOs in the United Arab Emirates have been by state-owned firms while private companies have yet to follow.

The company was valued at more than $5 billion in 2020 when an investment firm backed by a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family bought a 20% stake worth just over $1 billion in the group.

Indian entrepreneur Yusuff Ali founded LuLu in the early 1990s during a years-long oil boom in the Gulf region. It had annual revenue of about $8 billion and employs more than 70,000 people, operating in 26 countries across the Middle East, Asia, the US, and Europe, according to its website.

Another Middle Eastern supermarket chain, Spinneys Dubai LLC, is also planning a Dubai IPO this year, Bloomberg News has reported.