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Saudi recruiter seeks to raise more than US$200m in IPO

The offering will be open to both institutional and retail investors, say sources

London

SAUDI Arabia's Maharah Human Resources is seeking to raise more than US$200 million in an initial public offering that's likely to start this week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Maharah plans to offer 30 per cent of its existing share capital to investors through a listing on the kingdom's stock exchange, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. The offering will be open to both institutional and retail investors, the people said.

The company will be the first HR firm to list on the Saudi bourse, which predominantly trades banking and energy-related stocks. Maharah, which was formed in 2013, had more than one billion riyals (S$361 million) in revenue last year, the people said.

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Maharah's IPO application has been approved by the Saudi regulator, chief executive officer Yousef Al-Gafari said in an emailed statement. The company, which has a strong presence in Saudi Arabia, has set its future goals and developed its expansion plans to meet the kingdom's 2030 diversification plan, he said.

Momentum is picking up in the US$570 billion Saudi bourse as investors prepare for the inclusion in the emerging-markets group by MSCI Inc and FTSE Russell. Foreigners have been net buyers of stocks every week this year, helping the main equities gauge climb 18 per cent - the fifth best performance among major gauges tracked by Bloomberg in 2019.

Fawaz Alhokair Group, the Saudi retailer that owns the franchise for brands such as Banana Republic and Zara, said this week it plans to sell shares in its malls unit, seeking to raise as much as US$1 billion.

Maharah started weighing IPO plans last year that would give the human-resources service provider a valuation of about three billion riyals, people familiar with the matter said in October. Samba Financial Group is underwriting and advising on the sale, while Himmah Capital is acting as the independent adviser, the people said at the time.

Maharah recruits foreign workers and helps secure work visas for employees in industries including medicine, retail and hospitality, according to its website. BLOOMBERG