Last updated: 12 November, 2014

NCB bank shares surge after biggest Saudi IPO

Shares in Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank surged 10 percent on Wednesday in their first day of trading after the kingdom's largest public offering.

It raised $6 billion and was oversubscribed 23 times.

NCB stock opened on the Tadawul All-Shares Index, the largest Arab exchange, at 49.5 riyals ($13.20) after jumping the maximum allowed 10 percent, holding steady until the close.

The offered price was 45 riyals.

While NCB soared, the main Tadawul index was virtually unchanged, closing down 0.02 percent at 9,766.01.

Salah Saleh Sultan, head of wealth management at Muscat Capital in Riyadh, told AFP the NCB shares are actually worth more than 75 riyals each.

It is “a very strong and solid” bank, he said, noting that the price surge came despite broader market malaise, which he blamed on a 30 percent fall in global oil prices since June.

“The market is not good,” he said.

NCB shares were priced at a discount for the initial public offering and another analyst had forecast they could double at the start of trading.

Tadawul regulations limited trading to a “fluctuation limit” of 10 percent, up to 49.5 riyals.

For 15 days to November 2 the bank offered 300 million shares to the public in one of the world’s largest IPOs this year.

It received offers from 1.26 million Saudi subscribers for a value of 311 billion riyals, an unprecedented figure.

An additional 200 million shares are allocated to the state pension fund.

Chinese online giant Alibaba, which made its market debut in September, broke the record for the largest IPO when it raised $25.02 billion.

Despite the extraordinary value of NCB’s IPO, the number of subscribers was slightly below normal for the kingdom, and far off the 10 million Saudis who signed up for a 2006 IPO for a residential and economic city north of Jeddah.

NCB is the last of 12 Saudi banks to go public. Only three of them are fully compliant with Islamic sharia laws.

The investor interest came despite a ruling from the kingdom’s top Muslim cleric that the share offer was forbidden under Islam, which bans usury.

In 2007, Dubai port operator DP World raised a total of $4.96 billion in its initial public offering, the largest ever in the Middle East at that time.

A total volume of 1,409,613 NCB shares traded on Wednesday, with a value of 69,775,843.50 riyals.

Banks and financial services as a group fell 0.24 percent.

The NCB share offer came ahead of an expected easing next year of foreign investment restrictions on the Tadawul.