September 20, 2018 / 11:14 AM / in a month

UPDATE 1-Saudi's ACWA Power delays plans for IPO - sources

(Adds detail, background)

By Hadeel Al Sayegh

DUBAI, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian utility developer ACWA Power IPO-ACPO.SE has delayed plans for an initial public offering (IPO), originally envisaged for this year, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

It is the latest company to delay a public listing in Saudi Arabia at a time when the government is focused on attracting more investment to the stock market under its push to move the economy away from a dependence on oil revenues.

A spokesman for ACWA Power declined to comment. The company has $30 billion of assets under management and counts Saudi sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund as a shareholder.

ACWA Power, which develops power and desalinated water plants, had been planning to sell a 30 percent stake in an IPO in Riyadh by the end of the year. It hired JP Morgan, Citigroup, Natixis and Riyad Capital to advise on that process, sources told Reuters in March.

But sources now say the transaction will not happen this year, with one saying the IPO will be delayed for at least a year. Problems relating to an ACWA Power project in Turkey were one reason for the delay, one of the sources said.

Last year, ACWA Power launched the $1 billion Kirikkale Power Plant, with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts and capable of meeting three percent of Turkey’s total electricity demand.

But players in the Turkish power market have had their margins squeezed due to slow reform in the sector and Turkey’s recent economic plight.

Several other Saudi companies have delayed IPO plans in the past year.

Most notably, Saudi Arabia recently called off plans for the domestic and international listing of state oil giant Saudi Aramco.

Earlier this year, the Saudi Stock Exchange also delayed plans for its public share sale, partly due to anticipation that a MSCI upgrade could lift its valuation, sources previously told Reuters, while proposals for the IPO of Arabian Centres also stalled.

MSCI in June said it would add Saudi Arabian stocks to its widely-tracked emerging markets benchmark, but an inflow of foreign funds as a result of the move is expected to take several months. (Writing by Tom Arnold; Editing by Mark Potter)

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