Moroccan firm aims for $13 milion amid Arab IPO drought

Reuters , Tuesday 14 Jun 2011

Stroc Industry will offer investors in the Casablanca bourse 288,155 new share that will represent 23 per cent of the company's capital after the IPO. Morocco's last IPO was in November

Morocco-based contractor Stroc Industrie plans to raise 103 million dirhams by selling shares to the public this month amid dwindling regional share offerings in the aftermath of unrest in the Arab world.

Stroc Industrie will offer investors in the Casablanca bourse 288,155 new shares at 357 dirhams each, valuing the company at about 448 million dirhams. Subscriptions will be over the June 20-22 period, according to the listing prospectus.

The new shares will represent 23 per cent of the company's capital after the IPO. Stroc will make its trading debut on July 1 at the latest.

"Stroc's listing price offers a PE of 14.2 times 2011 earnings which is below the Casablanca bourse's average PE of 17.5 times 2011 earnings. Stroc's IPO is small but the kind of response it will have will be key in gauging investors' mood," said a Casablanca-based trader.

Stroc Industrie, which specialises in the construction of industrial units, wants to use IPO proceeds to expand its activities.

Morocco's last IPO was in November when insurance firm CNIA Saada raised 642.6 million dirhams in an IPO that was subscribed more than twice over.

In addition to a sharp drop in traded volumes, the Casablanca bourse has lost close to 10 per cent of its capitalisation since Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia became the first leader to be toppled by the so-called Arab spring.

The value of IPOs in the Middle East plunged 95 per cent to $21.7 million, their lowest level in five years during the first quarter, Ernst & Young said in a recent report, and show little signs of a turnaround in the near future.

The shockwaves of those revolts, that later affected Egypt, Yemen and Syria, stretched to Morocco where a youth-led movement has been staging regular peaceful protests to demand reforms under a parliamentary monarchy.

King Mohammed promised in March constitutional reform that should trim his powers in favour of the elected government. The monarch is expected to vet the draft reform before it is submitted to a referendum next month.

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