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Abu Dhabi Sheikh in talks to buy stake in Amanat

Abu Dhabi Sheikh in talks to buy stake in Amanat

Amanat said earlier this year it expects the region’s health industry to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 6.7 per cent by 2022

A company backed by a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family is in talks to buy a stake in Amanat Holdings, an investment firm with interests in health and education, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

One of the businesses led by Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is in early-stage discussions to invest in Amanat, which has a market value of about $523m, the people said. It wasn’t immediately clear which entity Sheikh Tahnoon would use for the potential transaction, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Any deal would add to a buying spree by companies under Sheikh Tahnoon’s control as the emirate uses the coronavirus pandemic to snap up stakes in key industries such as food supply and health-care.

Abu Dhabi, holder of about 6 per cent of the world’s oil reserves, recently agreed to buy a stake worth more than $1bn in one of the Middle East’s largest hypermarket chains as it seeks to diversify its economy away from crude.

No final decisions have been made, and discussions over an investment in Amanat could still fall apart, the people said. A spokesperson for Amanat declined to comment. A representative for Royal Group, where Sheikh Tahnoon is chairman, said none of the companies under his management has plans to invest in Amanat.

At the end of April, shareholders approved plans to move Amanat’s listing to Abu Dhabi from Dubai. The stock has rallied since, gaining 5.6 per cent this month, compared with a 6.5 per cent decline in Dubai’s benchmark index. Volumes traded in the stock in May are three times higher than the six-month daily average.

A successful transaction would come at a crucial time for regional hospital operators facing pressure due to the coronavirus outbreak. The United Arab Emirates has 20,386 cases and 206 deaths of the illness.

The sector has also been hit after allegations of fraud at London-listed Middle East hospital operator NMC Health, which has been put under administration after revealing more than $4bn of undisclosed borrowings.

Amanat said earlier this year it expects the region’s health industry to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 6.7 per cent by 2022.

Sheikh Tahnoon’s Royal Group owns a stake International Holdings Co. – an investment company that generated most of its revenue last year from fish farming – as well as interests spanning media, trade, financing and real estate.

He is also the chairman of Abu Dhabi Development Holding Co., or ADQ, which owns Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, Abu Dhabi Airports Co. and a number of hotel and tourism facilities.

Sheikh Tahnoon also chairs the UAE’s biggest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank.

IHC didn’t respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment, while a representative for ADQ declined to comment.

Amanat’s biggest shareholders include Invest Bank, which owns 16.2 per cent of the company, Emirates Investment Bank, which holds a 10.15 per cent stake, and Chimera Investments, which has 6.07 per cent of the business, according to its website.

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