District cooling firm Empower ‘halts plans for IPO’

Market conditions not favourable for listing, CEO says

PHOTO: Ahmad Bin Shafar, CEO of Empower. Credit: Supplied

Dubai-based district cooling firm Empower has halted plans for an initial public offering (IPO), citing adverse market conditions, Reuters reported.

The company’s chief executive Ahmed bin Shafar told reporters on Tuesday that market conditions were not favourable for a public listing.

“Empower is a company that must go public … we have studied this, we came up with the result that we will (launch an) IPO but the market conditions are not encouraging,” Shafar said, quoted by Reuters. “We are freezing the decision until we see the right time.”

While oil is thought to account for only about 5% of Dubai’s economy, the slump in crude prices has nevertheless sent the share prices of locally listed companies tumbling. Dubai’s main stock index, which is dominated by real estate and bank stocks, is down 40% from a 2014 peak.

Empower, a joint venture between Tecom Investments and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, reported an annual net profit of AED516 million ($141m) in 2015, up 27% year-on-year. The company’s 2016 profit is forecasted to be AED600 million dirhams, Shafar said.

Significant deals signed by Empower last year include an agreement to build a district cooling plant in Business Bay, and a contract to provide 25,000 refrigeration tons of district cooling services to the Bluewaters project being developed by Meraas.

Empower currently requires AED1.2 billion dirhams ($326.7m) in new funding for projects under construction, of which 80% will come from bank borrowings and the rest from company funds, Shafar said. The firm is in talks with local and international banks to secure the money.

The current low oil price environment has forced the company to halt plans to expand into Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in the wake of state spending cutbacks in those countries, the chief executive added.

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