Aabar plans further acquisitions, notably in Latin America, after booking sharply higher third-quarter profits powered by its investment in the car maker Daimler. "I can confirm that potential future transactions include new and exciting opportunities around the world and in areas not previously explored by Aabar," said Mohammed al Husseiny, the chief executive of the investment firm controlled by the Abu Dhabi Government. His statement mentioned Latin America as a location of interest.
Earlier this month, the company announced it would pay US$328 million (Dh1.2 billion) to acquire a stake in Banco Santander (Brasil), a unit of Spain's largest bank. That was the latest addition to a diverse portfolio of investments that includes Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz, and Virgin Galactic, the space travel venture. Profits at Aabar, which is listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and 70 per cent owned by the Government's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), advanced to Dh1.2bn from Dh19.9m in the third quarter last year. The firm's balance sheet also listed Dh3.5bn of liabilities related to derivatives in the third quarter.
"The increase in Aabar's profit for this quarter can be largely attributed to its very successful investment in Daimler, which has shown significant growth as well as a profit in several of Aabar's other investments," said Khadem al Qubaisi, the chairman of Aabar and also the managing director of IPIC. Aabar in March paid $2.7bn for a 9.1 per cent stake in Daimler, the world's second-biggest maker of luxury cars.
It followed up the Daimler deal with purchases in the third quarter that Mr al Qubaisi described on Thursday as "symbolic investments that have reinforced Aabar's position in the market as a major investor". The firm acquired a 3.64 per cent stake in Tesla Motors, the US maker of high-end electric cars and took a 32 per cent stake in Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company that hopes to have its first commercial flight at the end of 2011.
It also entered into a deal with five German firms, including Daimler, to manufacture cars and lorries in Algeria. Aabar's investments mainly focus on five sectors; properties, cars, financial services, infrastructure and aerospace. The firm started life as an oil and gas company but unloaded its energy assets last year, before being taken over by IPIC. Mr al Qubaisi in January said Aabar would serve as a means for IPIC to diversify its investments away from oil and chemicals.