The MEED 100 largest listed firms revealed

30 May 2023

 

The value of the top listed firms in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region held largely steady during the 2022-23 financial year as international investor sentiment wavered over the state of the global economy.

Viewed through the lens of the MEED Top 100, an annual ranking of the largest Mena-listed companies, the market capitalisation of the top 100 companies stands at $3.83tn, having edged up by a slight 1.6 per cent from the $3.77tn in MEED’s 2022 listing.

This almost static scenario contrasts with buoyant growth the previous year, when the region’s top stocks leapt in value by 23.4 per cent from only slightly above the $3bn mark amid higher oil prices and post-Covid growth optimism.

The relative stability of the list also belies some significant downward sliding in the value of oil and gas companies, amid lower oil price projections, and banks, amid higher interest rates and the global banking concerns following the crises at several US and Swiss institutions. The value of Saudi Aramco alone, which accounts for about 55 per cent of the list’s total value, dipped by more than $200bn.

Growth areas

The value loss has been balanced by growth in other areas, including telecommunications and real estate – the latter having been particularly supported by a strong recovery in the UAE property market. New entries have also been added to the list following a spree of high-value initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2022 and 2023.

Notwithstanding the overweighted presence of Saudi Aramco, the banking sector remains the largest contributor to the list, with 34 entities worth a combined $553bn. 

There are also 16 utilities and telecoms companies worth a combined $369bn; 12 other oil and gas companies besides Saudi Aramco, worth a combined $234bn; and 21 companies in other areas of industry, including manufacturing, construction and logistics, worth a combined $206bn. 

There are also 10 companies involved in services such as healthcare, retail and technology provision, worth $86bn, and six holding companies making up $270bn. The latter are led by Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Company (IHC), which is valued at $234bn after several years of value growth.

IPO activity

The Mena region had an exceptionally strong 2022 for IPOs, with regional stock exchanges seeing a total of 51 listings raise $22bn, close to a quarter of the $90bn raised on equity markets worldwide, according to a report by EY. Overall, it was 143 per cent more listings and 179 per cent more value than in 2021.

While global IPO activity experienced a decline in both volume and value compared to the previous year, the Mena region remained strong. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia stand out in terms of the number and value of their recent listings.

Abu Dhabi had two record-breaking IPOs, first with Borouge in June 2022, in an offering that raised $2bn, and then with Adnoc Gas in March 2023, which raised $2.5bn. 

Saudi Arabia also went on a listing spree in the fourth quarter of 2022, with seven IPOs on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) raising $4.7bn in proceeds. The largest came from Saudi Aramco Base Oil Company (Luberef), which raised $1.3bn. The Tadawul saw its first dual listing, with the UAE’s Americana Restaurants listing on both the Saudi and Abu Dhabi exchanges in December in an IPO that raised $1.8bn.

The 2023 MEED Top 100 list also incorporates the September 2022 listing of Dubai’s road toll system Salik on the Dubai Financial Market, which raised $1bn; the November 2022 listing of Saudi utility company Marafiq, which secured $897m; the November 2022 listing of Dubai’s Empower, which garnered $724m; and the March 2023 listing of Abu Dhabi’s Presight AI, which brought in $496m.

The region has largely retained its IPO momentum heading into 2023, with the first quarter seeing 10 new listings raising a total of $3.4bn. Despite a 33 per cent drop in the number of IPOs and a 14 per cent decrease in value compared to the first quarter of 2022, the region outperformed the global market, which saw a 61 per cent drop in IPO volume to 299 IPOs for the quarter, raising $21.5bn.

Uncertainties over the global economic outlook nevertheless continue to weigh on the markets in 2023, and the GDP forecasts for the Mena region are generally lower than in 2022. Despite these brakes on activity, there is optimism for an ongoing pipeline of large government-backed and private IPOs.

Major upcoming IPOs include the offering of 15 per cent of the shares of Adnoc Logistics & Services through an IPO on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange, scheduled for June 1. 

The listing of Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Global Aluminium is also still on the cards, as is the potential listing of Saudi Arabia’s First Mills on the Tadawul. Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group is also considering a dual listing in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

 

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John Bambridge
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