UAE falafel chain to IPO on Nasdeq Dubai

Mirna Sleiman – Reuters

imagesDUBAI – Just Falafel, a United Arab Emirates-based franchise restaurant offering the traditional Arab food, has hired an advisor to help arrange an initial public offer of shares on the Nasdaq Dubai bourse as soon as October, sources said.

The plan suggests IPO activity in Dubai is resuming after a gap of more than four years caused by the global financial crisis and the emirate’s 2009-2010 property market crash.

Bank of London and The Middle East, Britain’s largest stand-alone Islamic bank, said on Monday it planned to seek a listing on Nasdaq Dubai next month; the most recent listing on either of Dubai’s stock two markets occurred in early 2009, when construction firm Drake & Scull listed.

The sources, who are aware of Just Falafel’s plan, declined to be named because the matter is not yet public. A spokesman for the company declined to comment.

Just Falafel, which was set up in 2007 in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, has grown to 41 restaurants and more than 720 franchise commitments signed in 19 countries, according to its website.

Falafel, made of deep-fried balls or patties of ground chickpeas or fava beans, is usually served in pita bread. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables and sauces; chief executive Fadi Malas applied fast-food techniques to the food.

“The firm doesn’t want to offload more than 25 percent of its shares. Nasdaq seems to be a better option than DFM (Dubai Financial Market) for the shareholders,” one person familiar with the company said.

Nasdaq Dubai is by far the smallest and least liquid of the emirate’s two stock markets; it has only seven listed equities, despite regulations and infrastructure that comply with international standards.

Earlier this year, Nasdaq Dubai announced plans to set up a new IPO market for small and medium-sized enterprises, including high-growth companies.

(Additional reporting by Nadia Saleem, Dinesh Nair and Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Andrew Torchia)