Petrol station firm working on Bahrain IPO - bourse exec

Reuters Middle East

MANAMA, March 6 (Reuters) - A firm involved in running petrol stations is preparing for an initial public offer of shares on Bahrain's stock exchange, the deputy chief executive of the bourse told Reuters.

IPOs have been rare in Bahrain in recent years, as the kingdom's economy and stock market suffered in the wake of the global financial crisis, a local real estate crash and the island's post-2011 political unrest.

Zain Bahrain, the island's biggest telecommunications operator by subscribers, aims to break the IPO hiatus by launching its flotation by the end of June, in what could be the kingdom's biggest share sale since 2010.

This offer isn't the only one being prepared, Sheikh Khalifa Ebrahim al-Khalifa, deputy CEO of Bahrain Bourse, said in an interview.

"There is another IPO," he said. "I cannot elaborate much about it, but they want to merge the gas stations in Bahrain and have them under one umbrella." He did not name the company or give further details.

Bahrain Petroleum Co (Bapco), the government-owned oil producer and refiner, owns a number of service stations in the kingdom. However, there are other, smaller operators.

Khalifa said the bourse was looking at a number of ways to attract liquidity and listings, including the creation of a market for small and medium-sized enterprises.

It also aims to launch next month direct membership access so that brokerages located outside the Gulf can buy and sell shares in Bahraini companies for clients, as long as they are in a country with an approved regulator.

As deputy CEO, Khalifa is potentially a candidate to replace Fouad Abdul Rahman Rashid, who is due to retire this month after 11 years as CEO of the exchange.

A statement on who will replace Rashid will have to come soon, Khalifa said, but he wouldn't be drawn on whether he would be named the new head.

"This is something up to the board and I will be happy either way," he said. (Reporting by Farishta Saeed; Writing by David French; Editing by Andrew Torchia)