UAE’s TAQA lifts foreign ownership cap to 49%, net profit falls

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(Bloomberg) –The biggest listed company in the United Arab Emirates, Taqa, said it will allow foreigners, until now banned from buying its stock, to own almost half.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., as Taqa is formally known, will let outsiders hold 49% of its shares effective immediately, the board said in a statement on Tuesday. The company has a monopoly on power and water distribution in Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the UAE, and is valued at about $50 billion.

Taqa also plans to grow its dividend and reported a profit of 1.3 billion dirhams ($354 million) for the first nine months of this year, down 73% from the same period of 2019. The new dividend policy will target a total payout of 2.50 fils per share for 2020, growing 10% annually for the next two years.

Shares in the company dropped as much as 4.7% to 1.63 dirhams in Abu Dhabi, while the ADX General Index rose. Taqa is still up 14% since Thursday, when it announced it may allow foreign ownership, and the stock is trading near its highest level since October 2009.

While Taqa’s board didn’t state a reason for allowing foreign ownership, the government of Abu Dhabi has accelerated efforts to generate money from state assets since the coronavirus and crash in energy prices hit the economy. State-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. has raised about $16 billion so far this year, including through the sale of leasing rights for pipelines and properties.

The results were the first on a consolidated basis since Taqa took on the generation, transmission and distribution assets of its parent, ADPower, in July. ADPower holds 98.6% of Taqa, with the remaining sliver traded owned by local investors.

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