Why Go Public?

A company considering an Initial Public Offering (IPO) faces an exciting, yet challenging, decision that will represent a significant key milestone in the company's history. Deciding whether to float your company on a stock market is an important decision. Most successful privately owned companies will eventually reach a stage in their development where they consider whether the next natural step is to join a market. Joining a capital market provides the issuing entity with the opportunity to benefit from improved access to capital, increased global profile and access to liquidity. It also incentivizes the company to transform itself into a sustainable business model.

Funding of strategic
ambitions by raising capital
Ongoing access to capital
Monetisation for shareholders
Liquid and transparent market for shares
Corporate identity and enhanced public profile
Opportunity to transform the business, its strategy and growth plans
Retention of personnel and attracting talent
Succession planning

Why list on DFM?

Dubai Financial Market (DFM) is one of the most dynamic capital markets in the Middle East. Based in the region's financial hub, Dubai, which offers a well-diversified economy in international trade, banking and finance, tourism, information technology and infrastructure. Established in 2000 as a government owned exchange, DFM provides investors and market participants the best in class international platform facilitating the ease of listing of a variety of asset classes. In 2007, the DFM was the first exchange to be publicly listed, as well as first exchange regionally to be operating with sharia' principles.

Key benefits the DFM provides a company looking to list in Dubai:

Access to a stable and transparent securities market
Effective rules and regulations
Issuer Support Program
Increased public exposure through media, panel discussions, the DFM website, roadshows and DFM communications
Innovative Issuer Services
Solid Regulatory Framework
Advanced Technologies
  • 1.
    Once the Owner or the Board of Managers3 ("Board") decides to convert the Company into a Public Company, it is recommended that representatives of the Board, along with the legal counsel, hold discussions with the relevant Economic Development to seek in-principal approval for the conversion.
  • 2.
    The Board invites the Shareholders to a meeting to approve the conversion to a Public Joint Stock Company ("PJSC"), and the new Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company. The shareholders meeting should determine whether the IPO will follow a fixed price valuation or a book building process, as well as the offer structure (i.e. capital increase or sell-down, or a combination of both, and the percentage of each component). Also, the shareholders shall appoint a founders committee.
  • 3.
    A founders' committee is to be composed of not less than 3 members, who should represent the founders.

3. Board of directors in case of PJSC.

  • 5.
    Prior to inviting the public to subscribe for the offering, the founders will have to subscribe for shares not less than 30% and not more than 70% of the share capital of the Company at the time of the IPO.
  • 7.
    The relevant Economic Department reviews the application and the supporting documents. They will then coordinate with SCA to discuss the application and the particulars of the file and feasibility study. The relevant Economic Department and the regulator, SCA will appoint an independent valuer to valuate the Company4. In light of the valuation report submitted by the Company and valuation report which will be prepared by the independent valuer appointed by SCA and the relevant Economic Department, the value of the Company will be determined which shall constitute the founders’ in-kind contribution in the share capital of the Company after conversion to a PJSC.

4. In case of bookbuilding process, SCA will rely on the valuation done by the independent valuer appointed by the Company provided that SCA approves the valuer.

  • 8.
    Once SCA and the relevant Economic Department finish and approve the feasibility study and approve the valuation report, SCA and the Economic Department will meet and issue a decree approving the conversion of the Company to a PJSC ("Joint Decision"). The Joint Decision will need to be published in two newspapers, one of them to be in Arabic, within 5 days from the date of its issuance.
  • 9.
    A notice to all the creditors of the Company will have to be published with the Joint Decision, giving the creditors 30 days to raise any objection they may have to the conversion of the Company to a PJSC.
  • 10.
    SCA will approve the final draft of the prospectus and printing of the same shall start.
  • 11.
    The Company will publish a public announcement ("Public Announcement") in a form approved by SCA indicating the date on which the subscription period will start. The Public Announcement must be published at least five days prior to opening of the subscription period.
  • 12.
    The Offering Period is not less than ten (10) working days and does not exceed thirty (30) days, with one extension period of not more than 10 days; the trend in the market is to leave the subscription period open for 10 to 15 days.
  • 13.
    Allocation of shares amongst the successful subscribers and transferred / deposited the corresponding amounts with the Receiving Banks.
  • 14.
    All subscribers are notified of the offer shares allocated to them; and any additional amount not allocated is refunded via the DFM eIPO platform.
  • 15.
    The Founders invite the subscribers to a constitutive general assembly ("CGA") within fifteen (15) days of the closing of the subscription5. A copy of the invitation is sent to the SCA. If the said period expires without the founders making such invitation, then, the SCA shall do so. The CGA convened is valid only if attended (in person or by proxy) by 50% of the shareholders.

If such a quorum is not achieved, then a second CGA meeting is called to convene after five (5) days from the date of the fist Assembly. The second Assembly shall be valid regardless of the number of the Subscribers represented therein.

The meeting is presided over by the person elected by the CGA from amongst the founders. SCA and the DED may send one or more representatives to attend the meeting of the General Assembly as Observers without the right to vote, and their presence shall be recorded in the minutes of the CGA.

The CGA specifically considers the following matters:

  • a. The report of the founders on the formalities of the incorporation of the PJSC and the expenses incurred in relation thereto;
  • b. The election of the members of the first Board of Directors and the appointment of the Auditors; and
  • c. The declaration of the completion of the incorporation of the PJSC.

5. It is possible to include the invitation to the CGA in the prospectus.

  • 16.
    Within ten (10) days of the meeting of the CGA, the Founders submit to the SCA an application requesting the declaration of incorporation of the PJSC. The following documents are submitted with the application:
  • A declaration that the capital has been fully subscribed to, the value of shares paid up by the subscribers, and a list of the Subscribers’ names and the number of shares subscribed to by each of them;
  • The minutes of the meeting of the CGA;
  • Articles of Association as approved by the CGA; and
  • The documents evidencing the validity of the incorporation procedures.
  • 17.
    The Chairman of SCA issues a decision announcing the incorporation of the PJSC within five (5) days from the date of ling the Application.
  • 21.
    Listing of the PJSC shares must take place no later than 15 days from the date of issuing the trade license by the relevant Economic Department.

Key IPO Stages

The key steps for a company considering going public reflect the mandatory requirements from the Department of Economic Development (DED) and Security and Commodities Authority (SCA). From the initial evaluation of the company meeting the eligibility requirements, to appointing an advisory team and submitting all the required documentation to convert into a PJSC, through to registration and actual listing the PJSC shares on the DFM.

The below summarises the key stages of the IPO process.


Meet eligibility requirements
Company Board and Shareholders
take the decision to go public
Obtain DED initial Approval on the conversion

(Steps 1 – 3)

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Appoint key advisory team to prepare:
Feasibility Study
Asset Evaluation Report Prospectus

(Step 4)

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Ensure founders subscription for
shares is not less than 30%, and not
more than 70% of the share capital

(Step 5)

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Submission of all required
documentation to DED and SCA for
establishment of the PJSC

(Step 6)

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Revision of application by DED and
SCA, and valuation

(Step 7)

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DED issues a decree approving the
conversion of the Company to a PJSC

(Step 8)

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Within 5 days of issuance date
Two newspaper announcements on the conversion and notification to all the creditors

(Step 9)

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Upon SCA’s approval of the prospectus, the company publishes a Public Announcement of the subscription

(Steps 10 – 11)

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Minimum 5 days prior to subscription start date



Subscription period

(Step 12)

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Not less than 10 days and not exceeding 30 days
Allocation of shares and refunding

(Steps 13 – 14)

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Founders hold a Constitutive General Assembly (CGA)

(Step 15)

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Within 15 days of the subscription closing
Submission of application to SCA
requesting declaration of PJSC

(Step 16)

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Within 10 days of the CGA
SCA issues a decision announcing the
incorporation of the PJSC

(Step 17)

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Within 5 days of filing the application
DED register he PJSC and issue its
Trade License subject to all required
documentation filed with SCA

(Steps 18 - 20)

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(Step 21)

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No later than 15 days from Trade License issuance

Success Factors

There are several key factors that are required to be made when considering an IPO:

The following are the key eligibility requirements (these rules apply on the conversion of LLCs and PJCs)

Corporate Governance & Compliance
& Control

Equity Story

  1. Develop a strategic plan around growth and formalise business planning
  2. Develop the company’s equity story, highlighting the strategy, operational effectiveness, strong track record, management credibility and unique selling proposition / market position that would attract the right investor base
  3. Should reflect the stock profile that enables investors to assess the company’s defensive and growth characteristics

Business Plan

  1. Prepare a high quality business plan for the medium and long term that serves for a basis of internal goal setting and market communication
  2. Deliver targets for longer term growth that utilise the core competencies of the business

Balance Sheet

  1. Analyse refinancing of existing debt if any
  2. Determine appropriate leverage level at IPO and raise corresponding amount of primary proceeds

Financial Reporting

  1. Finalise internal auditing and financial reporting systems and processes to ensure ability to comply with speed and quality in line with best practices
  2. Define a reporting structure that provides visibility on segmental performance where appropriate

Corporate Governance & Compliance

  1. Establish adequate governance safeguards to secure the interests of all stakeholders (in line with the best practice corporate governance code)
  2. Set up appropriate legal and board structures, appointment of independent directors to the Board, and internal audit functions ahead of IPO

Transparency & Control

  1. Formalise the way of managing the business, incorporating risk assessment as part of regular planning and control
  2. Stakeholders will demand transparency on the company’s performance, strategy, risk profile/appetite/management and control systems
History of Successful Operations
Experienced Management Team
Appealing Sector Exposure
High Level of Stability and Predictability
Appropriate Size and Scale of Operations
Strong Growth Potential

IPO Library

Below are some useful documents and information to consider while thinking of an IPO:

Download Guides

DFM Guide to Going Public
DFM Guide to Investor Relations
DFM Guide to IPO Communications

IPO Team

Having the right team in place from the outset is crucial to the success of the IPO.

Internal IPO Team

Building a quality internal team that will manage the IPO process and update the management team at every crucial stage, is more important than ever at this stage of the company’s growth plans. This would include your financial, legal and communications teams, the appointment of an Investor Relations officer as early as possible in the process, and an internal IPO Leader to liaise and coordinate with external parties.

Regulators & Economic Departments

The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) is authorized to verify that all respective requirements to be a public joint stock company have been implemented, subsequently approving and supervising them. SCA have an open door policy for any company considering to go public, who can present their business case and raise any enquiries. The relevant Economic Departments play an important role throughout the IPO process. The Economic Department, in conjunction with SCA, issues the resolution approving the conversion of the company from an LLC to a Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC).


The business-wide experienced IPO team at DFM will assist you throughout the whole IPO process from the listing application, to the eIPO subscription, and the communication channels to reach investors, through to the actual listing on the market and post-listing services.
The Company is encouraged to keep an open dialogue with DFM throughout the process which includes involvement in the kick-off meeting with the advisory team.


Appointing the right advisory team ahead of the IPO preparation is the first step in achieving a successful IPO. Key advisory members include independent IPO advisors, Lead Managers/ Book-Runners, Legal Counsels, Lead Receiving Bank, Accounting and PR/Communications firms. The advisory team will depend on the offering structure and marketing strategy.