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Saudi fast-food franchise operator Alamar Foods considers IPO, sources say

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By Hadeel Al Sayegh

DUBAI, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Alamar Foods, the regional franchise operator for Domino's Pizza, is considering an initial public offering (IPO) that would allow The Carlyle Group sell some of its stake, three sources familiar with the matter said.

Alamar Foods has hired HSBC to arrange the share sale, the sources told Reuters. They said deliberations were at an early stage and no final decision had been made.

Alamar Foods did not immediately respond to a request for comment. HSBC declined to comment. Carlyle, which has $276 billion in assets under management and holds 42% of Alamar, did not respond to a request for comment.

Alamar is the master operator for the U.S. pizza chain, with 455 stores in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan. It also has the franchise rights for U.S. chain Dunkin' Donuts in North Africa.

Carlyle invested in Alamar in 2011, acquiring a 42% stake for an undisclosed amount from the AlJammaz family.

The sources said Carlyle would use the IPO to stage a partial exit, with one source saying it planned to sell about 30%. AlJammaz family aimed to retain their majority ownership, the sources said.

Private equity firms generally seek to exit their investments five to seven years after buying in.

Saudi Arabia's food and beverage industry is the largest in the Middle East, consultancy JLL said in a report last year.

The Saudi Arabian General Authority for Investment (SAGIA) estimated that spending on food service would grow by 6% a year over the next five years.

Saudi Arabia's stock market, whose shares have climbed more than 35% this year, is expected to have several new listings in the next 12 months, including the stock exchange owner Tadawul and the specialty chemicals business of Saudi Basic Industries Corp.

Saudi Arabia's Capital Markets Authority said in September about 45 companies were waiting for listing approval.

(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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