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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Abraaj invests in Pakistan's Cinepax

Private equity firm targeting further renewables investment in the country

Founded in 2002 by the Karachi, Pakistan-born Mr Naqvi, Abraaj attracted global investors by offering easy access to fast-growing markets in the Middle East. Greg Beadle / World Economic Forum
Founded in 2002 by the Karachi, Pakistan-born Mr Naqvi, Abraaj attracted global investors by offering easy access to fast-growing markets in the Middle East. Greg Beadle / World Economic Forum

Abraaj Group, the Dubai-based private equity firm which manages US$11 billion in assets, has invested in Pakistan’s largest cinema operator, and is assessing a series of renewable energy investments in the Asian nation.

The investment, the level of which has not been disclosed, will help Cinepax nearly triple in size by building 80 new screens over the next four years, up from its current level of 29 screens, and will also help grow the company's video streaming business.

“Pakistan's young growing population and expanding middle class ... is increasingly seeking improved entertainment options, which Cinepax is ideally positioned to provide,” said Omar Lodhi, Abraaj partner for Asia. “As one of the most active investors in Pakistan, with a strong on-the-ground presence, we see a long-term market opportunity in the cinema operator and video streaming business.”

Abraaj has invested across a number of sectors in Pakistan since 2004, with Cinepax marking its ninth transaction in the country.

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Saad Zaman, a partner in Abraaj's clean energy team, said the group plans to expand its renewable energy portfolio in the country.

“We are committed to the clean energy potential in Pakistan,” Mr Zaman told The National. “We are also advancing a significant pipeline of solar and wind projects in the country,” he said, declining to give further details.

The company invested earlier this year in Jhimpir Power, a 50 megawatt wind power project 120 kilometres east of Karachi, acquiring a majority stake in the company from Dubai-based Burj Capital. The wind farm is expected to become operational in the first quarter of next year.

“We see clean energy as a long term, sustainable investment opportunity, with our advance transactions today spanning in excess of 3 gigawatts capacity across markets,” Mr Zaman said.

The Pakistani government is looking to divest from QA Solar’s 100 megawatt project, located in the country's Punjab region, travelling to various cities - including Dubai and London - for a roadshow.

As an investment, renewables globally accounted for nearly a fifth of total energy spending last year, according to the International Energy Agency. Pakistan is working to reach its target of having 6 per cent of its total power generation derive from renewable energy by 2030.