13 IPOs raised RO 603m in 2017

Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) floated on the Muscat Securities Market (MSM) raised a whopping RO 603 million in 2017 — a trend that is expected to continue in 2018 as well with as many as six government entities due to be privatised, said Shaikh Abdullah Salim al Salmi, Executive President of the Capital Market Authority (CMA).
Speaking at celebrations marking the 19th anniversary of the CMA, Al Salmi said a total of 13 issues were floated on the Muscat bourse last year for a total offering of RO 370.5 million. The strong investor response helped increase the market value of the MSM to about RO 18 billion last year, versus RO 17.3 billion at the end of 2016.
IPO and investment activities are expected to remain energetic this year as well in light of the announcement by the Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs indicating that 6 government owned firms are due to be privatised in 2018, he noted.
The CMA, he said, is responsible for supervising and regulating the capital and insurance markets for the benefit of the national economy and sustainable development.
Listing some of the key objectives of the CMA in 2018, the Executive President said the Authority is preparing the legislative framework for the “gradual implementation” of healthcare insurance in the Sultanate.
Also set to make headway is the “Tamkeen” scheme for empowering young Omanis to work in the insurance sector. Other initiatives in hand include the issuance of acquisition and takeover regulation, in addition to the new securities law.
Last year, the Authority completed a number of initiatives and schemes, noteworthy being the approval by the Board of Directors of the CMA to convert MSM into a government-owned company in order to covert it later to a public joint stock company. Also worth highlighting is the issuance of regulations for Real Estate Investment Funds (REITs), and the rules for converting public joint stock companies into closed companies.
The insurance sector witnessed significant strides as well, with four national insurance companies being transformed into public joint stock companies. The capital of national and foreign insurance companies was raised to RO 10 million pursuant to the amendments made to the insurance companies law Royal Decree No 39/2014 after the end of the grace period for adjustment of the situation in accordance with the new requirements.
Also in 2017 a number of regulations were issued, such as amendments to the insurance brokers’ regulation, the rules for marketing insurance products, the rules for valuation of the cancelled vehicles due to road traffic accidents, and agricultural insurance products.
Training programmes for the employees of the insurance sector progressed as well.
The number of licensed insurance companies after mergers in 2017 was 21. It includes a Takaful company and reinsurance firm. A total of 38 insurance brokers were licensed to operate in the Sultanate, in addition to 112 insurance agents offering insurance services all over the Sultanate.