Abu Dhabi-based private equity firm Gulf Capital expects assets under management to double by 2018 as it launches new funds to invest across the Middle East, its chief executive said on Monday.
Gulf Capital manages close to $2 billion in assets currently, split between private equity, real estate and a credit fund.
“We plan to have more funds and in five years we could double our assets under management,” Karim El Solh told reporters on Monday, without elaborating.
Gulf Capital also announced a $20 million investment from International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group into its credit and mezannine fund.
The fund, launched in late 2011 and backed by regional and global investors, has grown to $215 million in assets. Gulf Capital is aiming to close the fund at $300 million end of this year. It is the largest credit fund in the region, Solh said.
At least $60 million is deployed from the fund into three companies, one in the United Arab Emirates and two in Turkey. The firm expects to do around 12-15 deals during the life of the fund.
The agreement with IFC will help provide long-term financing to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region facing an acute shortage of funding. SMEs account for only eight percent of total lending in the Middle East and two per cent in the Gulf, despite the sector creating half of all jobs.
“Banks are barely looking at this sector. These are the orphans,” Solh said.
Gulf Capital owns stake in firms such as healthcare chain Techno Scan and water engineering firm Metito Holdings, according to its website.
The private equity firm was looking to sell a $500 million worth stake in its portfolio company Gulf Marine Services (GMS) last year but the deal had stalled, sources had told Reuters at the time.