Dubai’s DEWA utility goes public after raising $6B in IPO

Apr 12, 2022, 4:51 AM | Updated: 4:56 am

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai’s Water and Electricity Authority, known as DEWA, began trading for the first time on Tuesday, after raising just over $6 billion during its initial public offering, making it the second largest offering ever in the Middle East.

While that figure still trails far below the record $29.4 billion raised by Saudi oil giant Aramco, it marks an inflection point for Dubai at a time when high oil prices are buoying the economies and spending power of energy-producing Gulf Arab states.

The government-owned utility opened trading on Dubai’s stock exchange with a market cap of 124 billion dirhams, or what is roughly $33.7 billion. DEWA priced its shares at 2.48 dirhams each, or what is 68 cents a share. It traded, as expected, higher in its market debut, closing 16% up at 2.87 dirhams a share.

The company plans to pay dividends twice a year to investors.

The listing comes as DEWA, which is the exclusive electricity and water utility provider of Dubai, positions itself as central to the wider United Arab Emirates’ energy transition to net zero by 2050.

Dubai is an energy-intensive city of skyscrapers and an endless stream of high-end hotels and sprawling malls — including one with an indoor ski slope and another with an indoor ice skating rink — that require air-conditioning year-round to keep the Persian Gulf’s heat and humidity out. The emirate, like other parts of the Gulf, also relies nearly entirely on desalinated water plants for potable water.

DEWA said it expects to supply all of Dubai’s desalinated water capacity by 2030 using clean energy and waste heat. The money raised from the public sale of shares in DEWA could help offset some of the costs of the emirate’s energy transition.

DEWA owns 70% of cooling services provider Empower, as well as bottled water manufacturer Mai Dubai, among other companies.

DEWA says it is ready to meet even greater increased demand for electricity and water in Dubai with the government aiming to grow the population of mostly foreigners and expatriates from around 3.5 million people to 5.8 million people by 2040.

Emirati nationals, who make up a fraction of the country’s overall population, receive generous electricity and water subsidies, paying a sliver of what foreign residents pay in monthly DEWA bills.

The government initially said it would go public with 6.5% of the company, but raised that to 18% on the back of local and international investor demand.

The listing is part of a wider plan announced last November by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the son of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to list 10 state industries on the stock market to boost its profile and raise new capital for the emirate.

Also on Tuesday, Dubai Investments, another company listed on the Dubai stock market, said it was selling a 50% stake in its district cooling subsidiary Emicool to London-based investment firm Actis for $1 billion. Emicool provides cooling services to a number of areas across Dubai, including its metro stations, Damac Hills and Dubai Motor and Sports cities.

In a shared statement by the companies, they said the sale is aimed at supporting Emicool in its vision towards becoming a leading provider of sustainable and efficient cooling services in the region.

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Dubai’s DEWA utility goes public after raising $6B in IPO