Emaar Malls shares jump 12 percent on listing

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Shares in the owner of the Middle East's largest mall jumped a little past 12 percent Thursday in the first day of trading on the Dubai stock exchange after its initial public offering.

Shares in Emaar Malls Group, which owns The Dubai Mall, peaked at one point during trading to almost 3.5 dirhams (95 cents) from the 2.9 dirhams (78 cents) it listed in its IPO. Shares closed at 3.25 dirhams (88 cents).

Emaar had sold a 15.4 percent stake in Emaar Malls Group in a $1.6 billion IPO last month that was the biggest in Dubai since 2007, just before the emirate was hit by a financial crisis.

Emaar Chairman Mohamed Alabbar said there are plans for its hotels unit, Emaar Hospitality, to go public as well. The hospitality group owns Dubai's Armani hotel inside the world's tallest tower, built by Emaar Properties.

"I'll tell you this statement about Emaar Hospitality: It's going to go public when the board of the company decides what percentage, how it's going to be done, all that detail," he said in a news conference at the Dubai stock exchange.

The Dubai economy is fueled by strong growth in tourism and real estate. Dubai is pushing to be a global fashion hub and has backed investments in the retail sector. Its luxurious malls are a major draw for tourists and residents looking for a cool escape during long hot summers in Dubai.