Abraaj Aims To Soon Complete Purchase Of Saudi Fast-Food Chain Kudu

The private equity firm has been in exclusive talks for months to buy a controlling holding in the restaurant group.



Private equity firm Abraaj Group hopes to conclude a deal soon to buy a majority stake in Saudi fast-food chain Kudu alongside TPG Capital, a senior Abraaj executive told Reuters.

The Middle East’s largest private equity firm has been in exclusive talks for months to buy a controlling holding in the restaurant group, currently owned by four shareholders including chairman Abdulmohsen bin Abdulaziz al-Yahya.

“It’s about dotting the Is and crossing the Ts – it’s not far,” Ahmed Badreldin, partner and head of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at Abraaj Group said in an interview.

Should the deal go ahead, it would be TPG’s first investment in the Middle East, highlighting how interest from international private equity firms in doing deals in the region has been picking up.

Kudu is estimated to be worth around $400 million, according to a banking source with knowledge of the matter. The source declined to say how he had calculated Kudu’s valuation.

Abraaj is also hoping to close two purchases in North Africa potentially by the end of the year, including one for Egyptian snack maker Bisco Misr, Badreldin said.

It made the approach to buy at least 51 per cent in Bisco Misr in July through its Abraaj Investment Management affiliate.

“There is a good deal flow in North Africa. There are plenty of mid-market sized deals – we restarted (in Egypt) a year ago and locked in at good valuations.” A mid-market deal in North Africa would consist of between $20 million and $40 million, he said.

Badreldin said the level of competition for deals in Egypt had increased from almost nothing a year ago, pushing up price tags for businesses in the country, which has been rocked by economic and political turmoil since the ousting of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

“For hospitals, we would probably have had to bid up higher this year by two or three times,” Badreldin said to highlight the increasing confidence in the Egyptian market.

Abraaj is also aiming to list a Tunisian firm in the next four-to-five weeks as well as sell an Egyptian asset. He declined to identify the companies involved.

The private equity firm also has a second business it was hoping to take public in the early part of 2015, he said, without elaborating.

But much will depend on global equity markets, which have experienced significant volatility this month due to uncertainty over global economic growth, a resurgent European debt crisis and the potential impact of the Ebola virus.

“If risk aversion comes back strongly, then you’re not going to have an initial public offering, it’s that simple. Then your buyers will be strategic buyers or you wait until another market window opens,” Badreldin said.