IPO underpricing in the insurance industry and the effect of Sharia compliance: Evidence from Saudi Arabian market

Zakaria Boulanouar, Faisal Alqahtani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the existence of underpricing in the cooperative insurance sector in the Saudi Arabian market and to examine whether Sharia compliance requirements have an impact on the level of underpricing. Design/methodology/approach: Underpricing and the effect of Sharia compliance are analysed using a comprehensive sample of 33 insurance companies with data collected between 2007 and 2013, after taking into account market movements, as well as some factors well-known in the literature. Findings: The authors find that underpricing not only exists but also is among the highest in the world (455 per cent), which contradicts the literature on initial public offerings (IPOs)’ pricing in highly regulated sectors. In light of one of the other findings of the authors, namely, the small number of insurance underwriters, the authors attribute these very high levels of underpricing in part to the monopsony power of insurance underwriters in Saudi Arabia. Regarding the Sharia compliance effect, they find that it does not significantly reduce the underpricing of insurance offerings. The authors interpret this as the fact that Sharia status might not be taken into account by underwriters when they price the offerings of insurance companies, due to a major drawback in the implementing regulations of cooperative insurance which have been highly criticised by practitioners. Research limitations/implications: Future research should try to include more factors that might explain the underpricing and its determinants. Two important recommendations flowing from this study for regulatory and supervisory institutions are the need to improve disclosure and transparency conditions and to work towards reducing the monopsony power enjoyed by the underwriters. As for Sharia effect, the Saudi central bank should resolve the issue of Sharia compliance by adopting one of the Sharia-friendly models suggested by Islamic finance scholars, such as wakala or mudaraba. Originality/value: To the best of authors’ knowledge, this paper is among the first to offer empirical evidence of the impact of Sharia compliance on the initial return of the IPOs of cooperative insurance firms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-332
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Investments
  • IPO
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sharia compliance
  • Stocks and shares
  • Takaful

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Finance


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