DUBAI, April 28 Emaar Properties is talking to regulators about the possibility of listing its shopping malls unit on Dubai Financial Market (DFM), the emirate's main bourse, instead of Nasdaq Dubai, sources aware of the matter said on Monday.
Last month, Dubai's biggest property firm hired Morgan Stanley to manage an 8-9 billion dirham ($2.2-2.5 billion) listing of the unit, which would be one of the biggest equity deals in the region for years.
Company officials previously said there might be a dual listing on Nasdaq Dubai, the smaller of the emirate's two exchanges, and London.
But the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity since the matter isn't yet public, said Emaar was now considering DFM instead of Nasdaq Dubai.
Asked to comment, Emaar said in a statement: "Emaar is considering several options regarding the listing of Emaar Malls, including DFM and will announce details when they are finalised."
It declined to comment on whether a London listing was still part of the plan.
Emaar has said it wants to offer as much as 25 percent of the malls unit. That is potentially problematic for a DFM listing, since companies listing there are normally required to float stakes of at least 55 percent; this rule has deterred some firms, and the last DFM listing occurred in 2009.
Nasdaq Dubai has a much lower free float requirement of 25 percent, but it attracts less trading activity than the DFM and has only about 10 listed equities.
Exceptions to the DFM's 55 percent rule have been made in the past, and the sources said the possibility of Emaar obtaining special permission to go below that level had been raised.
It is also possible that legal changes could facilitate a listing of the unit on the DFM. The United Arab Emirates' economy minister said last month that a new law covering companies' operations was expected to be approved soon.
One article in a version of the law given preliminary approval last year would reduce the minimum free float in initial public offers of shares on the DFM to 30 percent from 55 percent. Officials have not confirmed whether the article lowering the ratio will be included in the final version of the law approved by the UAE's president. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)