Sunday 30, July 2017 by Nabilah Annuar

Eskan Bank REIT commences trading to expatriates and foreign investors

First half-yearly dividend to be paid in September.

The Eskan Bank Realty Income Trust announced today that following approval by the Central Bank of Bahrain, expatriates and foreign investors are now eligible to purchase and trade in units of the Trust on the Bahrain Bourse. The trust, which is Bahrain’s first Shari’ah-compliant retail real estate investment trust (REIT), is the first to be listed on the Bourse and also the first unleveraged listed REIT in the GCC.

According to Dr. Khalid Abdulla, General Manager of Eskan Bank said, “We are delighted that expatriates and foreign investors will now be able to buy and trade in units of the Eskan Bank Realty Income Trust. This will provide the Trust with a more diversified unitholder base and greater global funding potential. It will also enable investors, regardless of nationality, to share in this ongoing development of Bahrain’s real estate sector and economy.”

The Trust has an attractive target of 6.5 per cent in net distributable income payable semi-annually. It offers investors a new alternative asset class with the opportunity to share in a stable diversified property portfolio; together with liquidity by being able to easily convert units to cash via trades on the Bahrain Bourse. Additional liquidity is provided by a dedicated market maker on an ongoing basis. The underlying properties of the Trust retail, office and residential currently have a combined occupancy rate of over 86 per cent; and there has been a recent pick up in leasing enquiries from prospective tenants.

The eligibility of expatriates and foreign investors to trade in units of the Trust results from new regulations issued by the Central Bank of Bahrain following enactment of the new Bahrain Trust Law in November 2016, which relaxed certain legal procedures with regard to trust holdings such as real estate assets. Trading in the REIT, which was listed on the Bahrain Bourse on 2nd January 2017, was initially restricted to GCC nationals because the underlying properties of the Trust are located in areas of the Kingdom not open to expatriates and foreign investors.

Najla Al Shirawi, Chief Executive Officer of SICO, previously the mandated lead manager for the offering, and currently sub-investment manager and dedicated market maker for the REIT, said, “I would like to thank the Central Bank of Bahrain for its continuous and progressive enhancement of regulations, and the Bahrain Bourse for its ongoing reform initiatives, which support the development of the Kingdom’s capital markets. It is pleasing to note that since listing on the Bahrain Bourse at the beginning of this year, the Eskan Bank Realty Income Trust has witnessed active trading on a weekly basis. The opening up of trading to expatriates and foreign investors will further improve the liquidity of this REIT, and the bourse as a whole.”

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