UPDATE 1-Al Baraka says IPO of Syrian unit oversubscribed

Sun Nov 8, 2009 4:50am EST

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MANAMA Nov 8 (Reuters) - Bahraini bank Al Baraka BARKA.BH said on Sunday it had received subscriptions worth 7.67 billion Syrian pounds ($167 million) for the initial public offer of shares in its Syrian unit, an oversubscription of 3.4 times.

Al Baraka's IPO is the second by a Gulf Arab bank after Qatar National Bank QNBK.QA (QNB) floated its Syrian unit in July. The bank had offered a 35 percent stake in the unit with a for 1.75 billion Syrian pounds ($38 million).

The Syrian government is trying to encourage IPOs after the launch of the Damascus Securities Exchange in March. There are 11 companies listed on the exchange, which was launched under government plans to gradually liberalise the economy.

Al Baraka, Bahrain's largest listed Islamic lender, said in a statement posted on the website of Nasdaq Dubai the unit would start operations early next year.

(Click on [ID:nISLAMIC] for more Islamic finance stories and ISLAMIC for a speed guide) ($1=46.05 Syrian pounds) (Reporting by Frederik Richter; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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