Primed for growth: Abu Dhabi's Yas Holding CEO on expanding during the crisis and plans ahead
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Primed for growth: Abu Dhabi’s Yas Holding CEO on expanding during the crisis and plans ahead

Primed for growth: Abu Dhabi’s Yas Holding CEO on expanding during the crisis and plans ahead

As Yas Holding rapidly grows its portfolio, group CEO Murshed Al Redaini reveals how the company has tackled the Covid crisis and its ambitious plans for the future

How has the year started off for Yas Holding? 

It has been a hectic start to the year. At Yas Holding, 2021 is critical for us to be well-positioned for growth in the coming years. Our team has been busy activating strategic initiatives, including acquisitions and expansion. Thankfully, we seem to be on course for succeeding in our goals for the year.

While we are yet to exit the Covid crisis, have you seen the situation improve as compared to 2020?

Although the improvement has not been pronounced, there is enhanced optimism triggered by the advent of vaccines. The UAE’s pioneering role in this area has given our country a competitive edge in the regional business landscape. We are already sensing substantial traction in priority industries such as healthcare, education and technology.

Yas Holding was at the forefront, contributing actively to the UAE’s rapid response, most notably across our food, healthcare, education, agriculture and distribution capabilities. And, since the Covid-19 outbreak began, we have been adapting our operations and our services to better cater to the changing needs of our customers.

By scaling up our operations, developing new solutions and platforms, in addition to adjusting to regulatory directives, we responded to the challenges we faced with speed and agility. We are proud of our team that accomplished this under difficult circumstances.

Last month, you completed the acquisition of a majority stake in the Dubai-based manufacturing facility of Geltec Healthcare. What are your expectations from the deal? 

This is an important acquisition that provides us with the unique capability to manufacture up to 1.5 billion units per annum of soft gelatine capsules and gelatine enrobed tablets.

We expect the Dubai-based manufacturing facility of Geltec Healthcare to complement the Global One Healthcare portfolio, bringing further strength and value chain potential to the fore through our capability.

Geltec Healthcare’s Dubai facility is also one of the largest soft gelatine capsule manufacturing and packaging facilities in the region, and most importantly has the scope to expand into various other dosage forms. Through this facility, we aim to produce several products locally that would substitute imports into the UAE, making us a leading regional supplier in this segment.

You also invested in biopharma Alvotech in November 2019. Do you see strong prospects within the sector?

Yes, it’s the main growth driver in the generic space, given the cost containment measures adopted by payers worldwide. 

We are quite optimistic about the prospects of these innovative products and are keenly seeking further strategic investments in this area. Alvotech was an initiative in this direction that gave Yas Holding access to biosimilars aimed at treating severe immune and inflammatory conditions. The biosimilars will improve both access to treatments and the quality of life for patients in our region.

Alvotech’s fully integrated vertical platform can support new products each year, which will create a substantial portfolio of high-quality, high-value products.

Which are your other focus sectors at present? 

Our other focus sectors include agriculture, food, FMCG, education and technology. We are also holding firm on our strategy of identifying and incubating new investment initiatives, as part of our broader mission to be a leader in the investment and innovation enterprise space.
The group is investing in both local and international markets and is focused firmly on opportunities that will help us to grow, diversify and build knowledge, skills, and technology.

For instance, in the food sector, our products are fresh, safe and trusted – including our home-grown UAE-operated ultra-fresh dairy Marmum and Elite Fresh, the market-leading local producer of fresh vegetables and fruits.

We are also particularly proud of our full-solution online education suite that is provided to thousands of teachers and students through Nebras Education’s SAAS platform – that transforms the way education is delivered in an ever-changing high-tech environment.

Further, Yas Holding is working on an impressive pipeline of acquisitions that would complement our present business portfolio. 

With operations globally, any regions that you are more bullish about when it comes to acquisitions? 

Our strategy is to focus on expanding our footprint within the countries that we operate in to create scale and diversity, with the UAE – and the wider region – being our first priority. That said, we continue to be open to attractive opportunities that have a strong strategic fit with our ambitions.

In the past few years, for example, Yas Holding has invested across the Middle East and internationally – including in Europe, Africa and Asia.  

Yas Holding currently has over 60 companies in its portfolio with 7,500 employees – is that likely to change substantially in the near future? 

We are completing a portfolio review to explore the optimal way to operate our businesses. Our goal is to build upon our industry sector priorities and our expertise while also driving efficiencies across similar industries. As part of this, we are taking a customer-first perspective and reviewing how our customers want to do business with us, across multiple sectors. 

At Yas Holding, we also have a highly skilled and experienced leadership team who are driving the organisation towards its ambitious goals. We are also focused on retention and recruiting a highly-skilled pool of talent to achieve our aspirations. 

Looking ahead, what are your expectations about the local economy? When will it recover from the crisis? 

Given the inherent strengths of the UAE and its able leadership, we are hopeful that the recovery here will be quicker than in other economies. Our close alignment with the country’s goals provides us with the opportunity to invest in its future with confidence. 

While it is difficult to predict the timing, at Yas Holding we tend to focus on the longer-term when we make investment calls. Our aim is to emerge strong and capable from the crisis and be an exemplary leader in the identified sectors.

Lastly, what are the longer-term plans for the company? 

Yas Holding seeks to be at the forefront of the UAE’s industrial strategy, supporting Operation 300bn, led by the UAE’s Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology.

We strive to create a portfolio of thriving and sustainable businesses and be recognised as a successful investment company known for its innovation and pursuit of quality. As I said earlier, our sector focus at Yas Holding is on healthcare, education, agriculture and technology, all of which align with the industrial, self-sufficiency and sustainability aspirations of the UAE.

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