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Gulf Capital plans over $500m investment to boost growth

Gulf Capital plans to invest over $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) over the next two years in some key markets as part of its investment strategy, its chief executive officer told Gulf News in an interview.
The Abu Dhabi based firm plans to invest $350 million in private equity and $150 million in private debt, with a focus on key markets like Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“We have a lot of dry powder left. We will be investing in the next two years, over $350 million in private equity and $150 million on the private debt. We are looking at over $500 million across the region to boost our growth,” Karim Al Solh said.
The company would be focusing on sectors like consumers, technology, renewable energy, business services, entertainment and tourism.
Earlier in May, Gulf Capital acquired a strategic stake in fintech firm Saudi Geidea, which is the largest electronic payment solution provider in Saudi Arabia for 1 billion Saudi riyals (Dh978.1 million).

The company has done a total of twelve transactions in the last fifteen months and is in discussions on several more deals which could materialise in the coming months.
“People say things are slow in the region but we are seeing a pickup in 2018. We are seeing more deal flow, better quality deal flow and we are seeing control in stakes at lower valuations.”
El Solh said the company plans deals in countries within a three to three and half-hour travel periphery from their portfolio companies that includes the Gulf, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. It is also looking at sub-Saharan Africa on the private debt side.
Speaking on Saudi Arabia, he said the country is taking the right measures to attract investments by liberalising the economy and opening up to foreign investments.
“Vision 2030 is in the right direction, they are launching new industries and are making things happen. It is very exciting for an investment firm like us. We are seeing more opportunities in Saudi than before.”
New investment laws in Egypt
On Egypt, the company invested over $200 million in sectors like health care, consumers, petrochemicals, manufacturing and is looking at increasing its presence in the country.
“We are encouraged by what’s happening in Egypt. Egypt is growing above 5 per cent, they devalued the currency, restructured the economy, introduced new investment laws and foreign reserves are all time high. If you look at the IPO market, it is 10 to 15 times oversubscribed.”
Gulf Capital owns the largest chain of radiology imaging centres in Egypt. They are also in glass manufacturing, fuel bunkering, petrochemicals and water.
“We want to invest in sectors that are linked to consumers be it food, education, health care, manufacturing and also industries that tend to export.”
In the UAE, the company is very bullish about the recent announcement by the government on the 100 per cent foreign ownership and granting of ten-year long term visas.
The new measures encourages businessmen to come to the UAE and launch businesses here, he added.
The company currently manages about $4 billion of assets in private equity, private debt and real estate.
Al Solh said they exited successfully from Gulf Marine Services last week and are down to 10 per cent stake.
“The Gulf has gone through a certain slowdown but that does not apply to all sectors, there are still certain sectors growing in double digit while others sectors are going down. Picking the right sector is very important and we are focused on that.”
The investment firm is also building a large residential compound in Riyadh and the first phase will open in April 2019, according to him.

Source: Gulf News

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