Just Falafel said to be planning Dubai IPO for 25 percent stake

Just Falafel. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

Just Falafel, the United Arab Emirates fast-food chain planning 720 new outlets in 19 nations, is weighing the sale of a 25 percent stake in an initial public offering, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Just Falafel, with more than 40 restaurants across the Middle East and the U.K., appointed Dubai-based boutique firm HK Advisory Services Ltd. to manage the potential listing on the Nasdaq Dubai exchange, the sources said. They declined to be identified because the matter wasn’t public. The company is seeking to conduct the IPO by the end of December, they said.

Emails to Just Falafel weren’t immediately returned.

The vegetarian restaurant chain is among UAE companies seeking to raise funds as the economy rebounds.

Gulf Capital, the Abu Dhabi-based private equity firm, said Monday it hired Rothschild to advise on a share sale of its Gulf Marine unit.

Buyout firm Abraaj Group also plans an IPO of its Stanford Marine Group unit in London, a person familiar with the plan said this week, while Bank of London & The Middle East PLC, the largest Islamic bank in Europe, intends to list on Nasdaq Dubai in October.

The benchmark DFM General Index has climbed 61 percent this year, more than any of the 50 largest equity markets, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The government forecasts average economic growth of 4.6 percent between 2012 and 2015, more than twice as fast as the previous four years.

Just Falafel would become the only restaurant chain listed on Dubai’s equity markets should it sell shares, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The Bloomberg Quick Service Restaurant Index, made up of fast-food companies such as McDonald’s Corp., has surged 37 percent this year, compared with a drop of 5.3 percent for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

IPO activity in the Gulf Cooperation Council fell 94 percent to $48 million in the second quarter from $1.1 billion in the same period last year, as political instability in the Middle East damped investor appetite, PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a report on July 9.

The last company to go public on the UAE stock exchange was Drake & Scull International in March 2009, according to Bloomberg data.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 18, 2013, on page 5.




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