LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi-based Gulf Marine Services (GMS) made a muted stock market debut in London, as the oil service vessel operator struggled to spark investors' interest following a glut of new share listings.
GMS shares were changing hands at 135 pence at 0829 GMT, unchanged from the level they were priced at earlier on Friday, in conditional trading before they are officially listed on the exchange.
The company priced its initial public offering (IPO) at the bottom of a range it had offered investors, giving it a market capitalisation of 472 million pounds ($787.1 million).
The valuation, which was below expectations for $1 billion, comes after several highly-valued flotations, including Poundland and Circassia, which both listed at the top of their price ranges in the past week.
A source familiar with the matter said GMS's offer had been oversubscribed. "It's just sensible pricing," the source said.
The company is the latest UAE firm to spurn local stock markets in favour of a prestigious London listing, following Dubai real estate developer DAMAC, and Abu Dhabi healthcare firms Al Noor Hospitals and NMC Healthcare .
But the eagerness of such companies for a London listing has not always been matched by enthusiasm from investors. DAMAC also priced at the bottom of its range.
GMS said the listing will raise 66.9 million pounds for the company, which it plans to use to purchase another small vessel, repay shareholder loans and expand its business.
GMS operates a core fleet of nine boats which can be jacked up on four legs to support operations at oil and gas platforms.
Private equity firm Gulf Capital reduced its 79 percent stake in GMS to 51.9 percent, while Horizon Energy LLC and Al Ain Capitall LLC cut their stakes to 6.5 percent from 10 percent.
The sale of existing shares is expected to raise 98.8 million pounds for the shareholders if no over-allotment is exercised.
Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and Barclays were global coordinators and bookrunners with JP Morgan Cazenove also acting as a bookrunner. Rothschild was the financial adviser to the company.
Public trading will begin on March 19.