* Four IPOs already seen in last 13 months
* Iceland stock exchange sees five new listings 2013
* Domestic institutional investors' cash locked in Iceland
* Bourse total value up 20 percent to $3.1 bln in 2012
By Ole Mikkelsen
COPENHAGEN, Jan 4 Rules preventing Icelandic
investors moving money abroad could increase the appeal of local
stock market flotations and help tempt more firms to go public
as the country recovers from its economic implosion four years
Four companies have already unveiled plans to go public in
2013 - insurers TM and Sjova, real estate company Reitir and oil
retailer N1 - joining the four which completed initial public
offerings (IPOs) in the last 13 months.
Most companies left the Reykjavik bourse after the collapse
of Iceland's biggest banks in 2008, causing a deep recession and
forcing the government to bring in capital controls forbidding
people from taking Icelandic currency outside the country.
Yet the market is showing signs of life and the total value
of the Reykjavik bourse increased 20 percent in 2012 to around
400 billion Icelandic crowns ($3.1 billion), with trading volume
up 29 percent at 89 billion crowns in 2012 from 69 billion in
2011, a bourse spokeswoman said.
Nasdaq OMX Iceland President Pall Hardarson told Reuters via
email: "(Last year) was characterised by a positive development
in equities, investors have welcomed new investment options. We
are excited by the listing prospects in the stock market."
Last year's flotations took the number of companies on
Reykjavik's main list to 11 and made the small north Atlantic
island nation's IPO market relatively buoyant compared with
Europe as a whole, where the volume of new listings fell more
than 60 percent on 2011.
Stocks which listed in the past year or so were retailer
Hagar, which made its debut in late December 2011,
followed by real estate company Reginn, shipping
group Eimskip and telecoms operator Fjarskipti
All offers were oversubscribed, with demand mainly driven by
local Icelandic institutional investors such as pension funds.
The market still has a way to go to match its value of
around 2,500 billion crowns in the years preceding the crash.
But with investor money piling up and capital controls set to
stay in place for years to come, the key bourse's key drivers
remain in place.
The fact Iceland issues few government bonds adds to
Icelandic institutional investors' appetite for stocks, as they
seek to diversify their portfolios, said Stefan Gudjonsson,
analyst at Arion Banki. "There is a lack of investment
Another five companies were expected to list in 2013,
according to the head of the Reykjavik bourse.
Analysts say some of the country's biggest banks,
nationalised during the crisis, may also relist at some point.
"It will probably not be this year but in coming years,"
The estate of one of the failed banks, Landsbankinn, has
already said it is aiming for a listing at some stage.
Some observers, such as Danske Markets Chief Analyst Lars
Christensen, said there were concerns that locking investors'
cash in Iceland has made companies overvalued.
But others say there were reasons for greater optimism.
Gudjonsson said he didn't fear a bubble, pointing to strong
corporate balance sheets after restructuring measures taken
following the crash.
(Editing by David Holmes)