Company That Airlifted Cows to Break Saudi-led Boycott Plans IPO

(Bloomberg) -- Two years after flying cows to Qatar to overcome a trade boycott against the desert state, Baladna Food Industries seeks to raise about 1.4 billion Qatari riyals ($382 million) in an initial public offering.

The subscription period will last from Oct. 27 to Nov. 7, with the first day of trading on Dec. 11, the food and beverage business said Thursday in a statement. The listing will allow Qataris to participate in the company’s growth, board member Ramez Al-Khayyat said at a news conference in the capital Doha.

Baladna’s founders will retain 25% of the shares. Strategic investors including the General Retirement and Social Insurance Authority and local food companies have committed to buying 23%, while the Qatari public will have access to the remaining 52%, according to the statement.

The offering is part of the Persian Gulf country’s mission to privatize and expand its capital markets and would be the first on Qatar’s bourse this year. The exchange, with a market capitalization of about $157 billion, has been trying to attract more family-owned businesses, and it engineered a stock split earlier this year to attract more retail investors. The main equities gauge is up 1.3% for the year, underperforming the 6.6% gain for the MSCI EM Index.

Baladna’s parent Power International Holding airlifted thousands of cows to Qatar to ensure residents had access to dairy products after Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations imposed a boycott in June 2017. The Saudis and their allies accused Qatar of supporting Islamic militants, charges Doha denied.

The embargo, which remains in effect, disrupted trade and forced the world’s richest country per capita to open new trade routes to bring in food, building materials and equipment for its natural gas industry. Qatar is the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Baladna first discussed its intention to raise capital in the public markets in January 2018.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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