Abu Dhabi-based investment company Hayaat Group has acquired a 10 per cent stake, worth $2.9 million, in the Australian oil and gas firm Swala Energy.
The acquisition of a stake in Swala, which has exploration assets in Kenya and Tanzania, marks Hayaat group’s first direct investment in oil exploration. The Australian energy firm’s exploration assets are in the East African Rift system where four million barrels of oil have been discovered, making it an area of interest to major oil firms involved in exploration.
Listed in the Australian Securities Exchange, Swala is the fifth largest company operating in the East Africa region.
Hayaat Group, a diversified conglomerate, currently has investments in real estate, oil and gas, shipping, education, healthcare and media. The group’s energy portfolio includes other oil-related infrastructure projects in Mozambique.
The investment in Swala follows the group’s exit from a real estate project in the UK, the company said.
“It (Swala) is a well-run and well financed business with an extremely attractive portfolio of exploration assets,” said Mohammed Ikhlaq, founding member and executive director of Hayaat Group.
“The licenses are located in some of the most prospective land we have ever encountered and we are greatly encouraged by the high rate of exploration success already seen in the region. This is considerably higher than the average across the industry as a whole, lending weight to our belief in East Africa as a place in which to invest.”
Hayaat confirmed that it is planning to increase its investments across Africa.
“Swala Energy is the first of what we expect to be a series of investments in East Africa, a region which we regard as offering some of the most attractive potential returns anywhere in the world,” said Charlie Benson, CEO of Hayaat Group.
Companies based in the Gulf are increasingly eying the African market owing to the continent’s untapped resources and improving political conditions.
Etisalat bought a 53 per cent stake in Maroc telecoms earlier this year for $5.67 billion, adding to its portfolio of African investments. Dubai-based conglomerate Al Futtaim Group has announced plans to invest in the Nairobi-listed car retailer CMC Holdings, making it their first investment in sub-Saharan Africa.