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UAE investor with $540m in cash says M&A spree not over

UAE investor with $540m in cash says M&A spree not over

The Abu Dhabi-based company has amassed a portfolio spanning real estate to utilities and health care to food services

International Holdings Company (IHC), which has quickly become the United Arab Emirates’ fourth-most-valuable listed company, isn’t done yet with a rapid-fire acquisition spree.

Through a flurry of M&A that started last year, the Abu Dhabi-based company has amassed a portfolio spanning real estate to utilities and health care to food services. The shares have soared more than 500 per cent in 2020, giving IHC a market capitalisation of about $19bn.

“We are talking to some existing solar facilities to acquire them and are currently in conversations to invest in a large solar plant in Europe,” Syed Basar Shueb, the company’s chief executive officer and managing director, told Bloomberg in an interview.

IHC has about Dhs2bn ($540m) in cash for acquisitions, and is in advanced talks for a deal involving a private social media platform based in “a significant market,” he said.

The gains in its stock accelerated after Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan became IHC chairman in April. A member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, Sheikh Tahnoon holds the same post at the Royal Group, a major UAE conglomerate and IHC’s biggest shareholder.

The breakneck pace of IHC’s market ascent had investors scratching their heads earlier this year.

No analysts actively cover the stock and the float was concentrated in the hands of a small group of investors, mostly UAE citizens, as of the end of 2019. IHC’s first-half revenue jumped to $670m, a seven-fold increase from a year earlier.

The company is making efforts to be more transparent for investors, said Shueb, 44, who began working with the Royal Group in 1998.

It’s developing an investor relations department that should be operating by the end of the year. It’s also considering steps to increase liquidity in the shares, he said, without giving details, the goal being to become eligible for emerging-market indexes tracked by passive money managers.

Management has been approached by index compilers MSCI and FTSE Russell regarding the potential addition of the stock to such benchmarks, with the move possibly coming closer as the free float nears 20 per cent, according to Shueb.

“There were a lot of dormant shares,” he said.

IHC has been contacted by three potential strategic investors, and a stake sale could happen before year-end, he said.

The company is also considering raising capital. “There are many options we are looking at at the moment to increase liquidity.”

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