x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Aabar fills crucial posts during takeover

Aabar Investments has appointed Brandt Mowry as its chief financial officer and chief investment officer, filling a hole in the company's management as acquisition talks with Arabtec drag on.

Aabar Investments has appointed Brandt Mowry as its chief financial officer and chief investment officer, filling a gaping hole in the company's management as acquisition talks with Arabtec, a construction company based in Dubai, drag on. Despite making numerous high-profile acquisitions in recent months, Aabar, based in Abu Dhabi, has not had anyone in either position since Mohammed al Husseiny moved from the chief financial officer's post to become chief executive last May, a company spokesman said. Neither Mr al Husseiny nor Mr Mowry could be reached for comment yesterday.

Aabar in January offered to acquire 70 per cent of Arabtec through a convertible bond for Dh2.30 per share. But the companies said on Sunday that they agreed to extend the due-diligence period on the acquisition by a month, setting a new deadline of April 16.Analysts said the extension indicated that Aabar wanted to take a closer look at how Arabtec had been affected by declining construction activity in Dubai and potentially reduce its offer.

Arabtec's stock price closed yesterday at Dh2.15 on the Dubai Financial Market General Index, meaning Aabar's Dh2.30 price would be a 7 per cent premium. Mr Mowry joins Aabar from Virgin Management, a subsidiary of the Virgin Group that evaluates new investments and business proposals. Mr Mowry had been a senior vice president there, and previously worked in corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions at the US oil giant Exxon and for PepsiCo in the Middle East.

Aabar bought a 32 per cent stake in Virgin Galactic, the Virgin Group's commercial space venture, for US$280 million (Dh1.02 billion) last July. At the same time, the company said it would invest $100m in a small satellite launch facility in Abu Dhabi and receive exclusive rights to host Virgin Galactic tourism and research flights. Aabar has made a series of headline-grabbing acquisitions since early last year, when it was acquired by the Abu Dhabi Government-owned International Petroleum Investment Company and transformed itself from a small player in the region's energy services sector into one of the emirate's most visible investment firms.

The company, which is listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, spent $2.7bn last March on a 9.1 per cent stake in Daimler, the German car maker. It has since partnered with Daimler on numerous acquisitions and other deals, including buying a stake from Daimler in Tesla Motors, the electric car maker, and investing alongside the company in an a car manufacturing venture in Algeria. In its largest deal with Daimler to date, the companies last year bought a controlling interest in the Brawn GP Formula One racing team, which has since been renamed Mercedes Grand Prix.

In addition to its automotive industry interests, Aabar has made forays into the financial, aviation and property sectors. @Email:afitch@thenational.ae