World Economy

JPMorgan Sees IPOs, M&A Driving Mideast Deals

JPMorgan has been the MENA region’s top arranger for bond sales.JPMorgan has been the MENA region’s top arranger for bond sales.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. sees initial public offerings and M&A driving Middle East deals this year in what the US bank expects to be its busiest in the region.

Private sector mergers and state sell-offs as part of privatization plans will accelerate, while corporate bond sales are also likely to rise, Sjoerd Leenart, the bank’s global head of corporate banking and regional head for Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in an interview, Bloomberg reported.

 “There is a great need for companies to become more efficient, so we will see consolidation as one of the themes driving M&A,” Leenart said. “In equity markets we see levels of activity are picking up, particularly across the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia. Across our teams we are absolutely very busy at the moment with a lot of deals being worked on.”

Regional deal activity is already showing signs of picking up this year as slower economic growth encourages more tie-ups between firms and governments fund budget shortfalls with bond sales. Issuance is already off to a record start with $23 billion of debt raised as borrowers rush to lock in costs ahead of increases in US interest rates. Companies are also hiring banks to advise on M&A deals after they reached their lowest level in 2017 for at least 12 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Even though the signs are positive, “mergers in the region can be difficult to close and take a long time,” Leenart said.

Several companies that announced merger or takeover plans last year are yet to agree terms. HSBC Holdings Plc-backed Saudi British Bank and Alawwal Bank, in which Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc owns a 40% stake, started merger talks in April, but haven’t completed a deal. Saudi Arabian hospital operators Al Hammadi Co. for Development and Investment, and National Medical Care Co. started preliminary merger talks in August, but haven’t agreed a deal yet.

JPMorgan has been the Middle East and North Africa’s top arranger for bond sales for the past two years as issuance reached record levels of $81 billion and $101 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


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