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UAE’s Waha Capital Sees Asset Growth With $500m Investment – CEO

UAE’s Waha Capital Sees Asset Growth With $500m Investment – CEO

Waha, which has a stake in New York-listed AerCap Holdings, had assets totalling Dhs6.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in June this year.

Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Waha Capital expects its assets to grow about 25 per cent in the next two or three years as it invests $500 million in the region’s energy, healthcare and education sectors, its chief executive said.

“We have the firepower, capital of $500 million ready to be deployed to fund all our growth aspirations in the next two to three years,” Salem Al Noaimi said in an interview at the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.

“The size of our balance sheet will increase at a minimum in line with our investment, or more.”

Waha, which has a stake in New York-listed AerCap Holdings, had assets totalling Dhs6.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in June this year.

Set up in 1997 as a leasing company, Waha diversified to become an investment firm in 2008. Its shareholders are prominent local businessmen as well as deep-pocketed Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala Development Co.

The company’s eagerness to invest in the region mirrors many investment firms in the Gulf. Several years of high oil prices and strong economic growth have rebuilt firms’ balance sheets, repairing damage done by the global financial crisis, and left them flush with cash – the oil price slide of recent months has been much too brief to have a negative impact.

At the same time, with several exceptions such as Syria and Iraq, the political tensions created by the Arab Spring uprisings have eased in many countries – Egypt for example is looking more stable. This has encouraged investment firms to look at North Africa again.

Earlier this year, Waha set up an energy-focused investment unit and picked up a 20.56 per cent stake in Dubai-based National Petroleum Services (NPS) for $76 million in its first energy-related deal.

The company may increase its stake in NPS, Noaimi said without being more specific, adding that Waha was looking at opportunities across the Middle East and North Africa in energy-related projects.

It is also looking at investing in the healthcare and education sectors. Investments in healthcare worth a “couple of hundreds of million dirhams” will be made through Anglo Arabian Healthcare, a UAE-based group in which Waha has a 97 percent stake, he said.

Healthcare is seen as a high-potential industry by many funds in the Gulf because of the region’s rapid population growth and government spending to improve social welfare, which has accelerated since the Arab Spring.

Although Waha earmarked Dhs250 million to invest in the education sector over a year ago, it has yet to finalise any of several deals at which it is looking, Noaimi said.

“The population growth and lack of supply in these sectors provides room for lots of players,” he said. UAE firms such as New Medical Centre group and Al Noor Hospitals, as well as some private equity firms, have been active investors in healthcare and education.

Waha, which obtained regulatory approval on Tuesday to buy back 10 per cent of its shares, will purchase stock depending on the market price, Noaimi said without elaborating.

The firm also plans to increase its investments in regional equities and emerging market public debt, he added.

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