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Kuwait’s Americana Chairman Says Not Aware Of Potential Sale

Kuwait’s Americana Chairman Says Not Aware Of Potential Sale

Sources had said that Kuwait’s billionaire al-Kharafi family was looking to sell Americana and had hired bankers to explore a deal.

Kuwait Food Co. (Americana) is not aware of any potential sale of the company, its chairman said on Sunday.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Kuwait’s billionaire al-Kharafi family was looking to sell Americana and had hired bankers to explore a deal.

“As executive, chairman and board we don’t we know anything about anything on this subject,” Americana Chairman Marzouk al-Kharafi told journalists on the sidelines of an annual general meeting in Kuwait.

“This subject is for shareholders,” he added.

Sources had earlier told Reuters that the family was working with investment bank Rothschild to approach potential buyers including private equity groups and sovereign wealth funds in the region to explore their interest in the $3.6 billion group.

According to Thomson Reuters data, the Kharafi family holds 66.8 per cent of Kuwait Food Company, which sells goods under the brand name Americana, through its private investment company MAK (Mohammed Abdulmohsin al-Kharafi & Sons).

Founded in 1964 in Kuwait, Americana is a publicly traded group of companies based in the Middle East and North Africa, with interests in restaurants and packaged food.

It trades on the Kuwait stock exchange and its $3.63 billion market capitalisation makes it the biggest company on the Thomson Reuters MENA Cyclical Consumer Goods and Services Index. The group had sales of $3.1 billion dollars in 2013 and profits of $179 million, according to its website.

The company is a franchise operator of restaurants including KFC and Pizza Hut, owned by Yum Brands, and Red Lobster and Olive Garden, owned by Darden Restaurants. Americana also manufactures California Garden beans and Farm Frites frozen vegetables.

The Middle East is seen as an attractive region for food and drink companies, thanks to a growing and youthful population and a drive to reduce the economic dependence on oil and gas.

In 2009, Americana sold its stake in a joint venture called Cairo Food Industries to its partner, H.J. Heinz, which is now owned by Brazilian private equity firm 3G.

PepsiCo has a joint venture with Saudi Arabian dairy company Almarai, while Coca-Cola bought half of the Saudi Arabian beverage business owned by Aujan Industries in 2012, pledging to invest $5 billion in the region over the next decade.

The sources said it was not clear whether the business might be sold in part or as a whole.

The Kharafi family, one of the most influential in the Gulf Arab region, have holdings across various sectors including construction, financials and telecoms through MAK.

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