Gulf Capital bullish on Saudi Arabia as the country opens up

Private equity firm Gulf Capital is bullish on Saudi Arabia and plans to increase its investments as the country opens up for business.

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. The shadows of investors and speculators are seen cast on a screen as they monitor stock prices at the FALCOM investment bank in Riyadh August 5, 2014.

Image used for illustrative purpose. The shadows of investors and speculators are seen cast on a screen as they monitor stock prices at the FALCOM investment bank in Riyadh August 5, 2014.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Monday, Jun 13, 2016

Abu Dhabi: Private equity firm Gulf Capital is bullish on Saudi Arabia and plans to increase its investments as the country opens up for business, the company’s chief executive told Gulf News today night.

“We are looking for opportunities as the country opens up. Lot of privatisation is taking place and the government is looking to sell companies and partner with private sector. We are going to see more Public Private Partnership and family business being put for sale,” said Karim El Solh. He added that the Saudi National Transformation Plan unveiled by the government earlier this month is a step in the right direction to boost the economy.

“It’s a plan in the right direction because they want to enhance the role of the private sector. They want to create more private sector jobs and are encouraging FDIs. Part of the pillar is increasing efficiency and privatisation. The plan provides great opportunities for investment companies like us,” El Solh said.

Job plan

As part of the plan more than 45,000 jobs would be created outside the government sector by 2020 and Dh270 billion worth of goods and services will be produced locally, a report by Reuters said.

The firm is looking to finalise three transactions in Saudi Arabia by the end of the quarter, according to El Solh.

Muhannad M Qubbaj, senior managing director of private equity at Gulf Capital said the company would be focussing on consumers, social infrastructure such as healthcare and education related sectors for investment.

“We are already active in Saudi Arabia with investments in education, food and beverage distribution and real estate development. We will expand further as the country welcomes more private firms,” he said.

Gulf Capital has bought Saudi Arabian food and drinks distributor Multibrands from Kuwaiti businessman Fozan Al Fozan for an undisclosed price, and is also involved developing a residential compound in Riyadh which will be completed in the second half of 2018.

“Saudi Arabia is an exciting landscape because you have increasingly sophisticated, very young and energetic population. This population is exposed to best standards, and they are going to require all types of services and products,” Qubbaj said.

Gulf Capital, one of the largest private equity firms in region is investing across several asset classes including private equity, private debt and real estate. The firm currently manages over Dh14.7 billion of assets across 10 funds and investment vehicles.

The company announced this month the International Financial Corporation (IFC) has invested $25 million in its second private debt fund called GC Credit Opportunities Fund II that seeks to provide tailored financing solutions to mid-market companies in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Sub-Saharan Africa.

By Fareed Rahman Senior Reporter

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