Oman Islamic Bank Nizwa Eyes US$156m IPO

Omani lender Bank Nizwa, the sultanate’s first Islamic bank, plans to raise US$156m by selling 40 percent of capital in an initial public offering on the Muscat Securities Market.

The bank is not yet operational and has only a representative office. Three branch openings are planned after the IPO.

“Bank Nizwa will start IPO subscription on April 23. The bank is offering 600m shares, with a par value of 102 baisas each, including two baisas for meeting issue expenses,” the lender said in a statement.

Bank Nizwa, sponsored by Al Khalili Group and other local shareholders, has a capital base of 150m rials (US$390m) and the IPO is being managed by local lender Oman Arab Bank.

The shares are expected to list on June 6 and the bank is expected to be operational by July this year.

While neighbouring Gulf states have ramped up Islamic finance services in recent years, Oman stood out by refusing to participate in the industry, with its central bank head saying in 2007 “banks should be universal”.The central bank reversed that stance last year.

Another Islamic bank under formation, Al Izz International Bank is expected to issue an IPO of 40 percent of its 100m rials capital by June this year, central bank of Oman said earlier this year.

Conventional lenders are also allowed to establish Islamic banking windows in the non-OPEC oil producer.

Both Bank Muscat and National Bank of Oman have said they would do so, while Standard Chartered is considering whether to offer sharia-compliant services.