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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Abu Dhabi Financial Group to maintain growth strategy

The company is now planning further acquisitions in the Arabian Gulf region to grow its portfolio.
Jassim Alseddiqi, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Financial Group, said that 2016 was the busiest year for the company. Christopher Pike / The National
Jassim Alseddiqi, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Financial Group, said that 2016 was the busiest year for the company. Christopher Pike / The National

The Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), an alternative investment company with US$5 billion in assets, will maintain its growth strategy this year after a busy 2016 that included investments in banking and property.

The company doubled its revenue last year compared with 2015, its chief executive Jassim Alseddiqi said on Sunday, without giving figures.

“2016 was our busiest year because we were very active, because … there was Brexit, because there was [Donald] Trump, because there was a collapse in the oil price,” Mr Alseddiqi said.

ADFG is the majority stakeholder in the Dubai investment bank Shuaa Capital, the biggest investor in Bahraini Islamic investment group GFH and the second-largest shareholder in Abu Dhabi’s Eshraq Properties.

The company is now planning further acquisitions in the Arabian Gulf region to grow its portfolio.

“We always say this year is the year of consolidations [in a number of sectors]. What is going to happen, it depends on many things, it depends on shareholders, regulators,” Mr Alseddiqi said.

Yesterday, Shuaa said it would acquire two financial services companies from one of ADFG’s units, a deal designed to bolster the investment bank, according to Mr Alseddiqi.

ADFG’s interests in financial services range from Islamic banking to equities fund management. ADCorp, its newly formed Islamic investment bank in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) in the emirate’s financial free zone, will soon launch with an authorised capital expected to exceed an initial figure of $100 million, he said.

In the ADGM the company also has an equity fund, Goldilocks, that has grown from an initial seed of Dh100m in July 2015 to about Dh1.3bn, he said. The return on the fund since its launch is 397 per cent, Mr Alseddiqi added.

“We are looking to grow it even further. We continuously bring in investors in it. Most of the investors are high net worth GCC investors.”

The company has also structured $3bn worth of debt in the past three years in the United Kingdom, Bahrain and the UAE as it focuses on alternative property funding.

The Brexit vote has made property cheaper for international investors after the pound plummeted against the dollar. ADFG has invested in luxury property developments in central London, with 75 per cent of units already sold at its No 1 Palace Street development overlooking Buckingham Palace, which is due for completion in 2019. Nearby, demolition work at New Scotland Yard has started to make way for ADFG’s mixed-use project, The Broadway, with expected completion in 2021.

“As the pound decreases or stays at this level it will attract more international investors,” Mr Alseddiqi said.

dalsaadi@thenational.ae

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