x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Dubai water firm Metito looks to flourish in distant parts

Dubai-based utilities company Metito eyes "at least five" acquisitions in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, but a mooted initial public offering for 2012 is put on hold.

Metito is eyeing "at least five" targets for acquisition as the Dubai-based water and waste treatment company searches for growth across Asia and Africa.

The company also said it had shelved plans for an initial public offering this year.

Metito is viewing a number of deals with transaction values ranging from between US$5 million (Dh18.3m) to $80m, said Rami Ghandour, the company's executive director.

"We're actively looking towards mergers and acquisitions opportunities," he said. "Some small, some larger … active opportunities that we're looking at right now include China, India and Saudi Arabia."

The company said new projects in Egypt and Libya had proved scarce since last year following revolutions in both countries, and it was now seeking to invest elsewhere in the region as political uncertainties cloud the investment outlook.

"We need to redeploy resources. We've had to push into other parts of Africa, including Algeria and Morocco where we were present, but now we're stronger," Mr Ghandour said.

Opportunities in the UAE had also been scarce, he added.

The company is looking at opportunities to supply plants and equipment in countries including Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea and Angola, alongside new prospects in Kenya, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

In October, Metito bought a minority stake in a Chinese joint venture it had formed with Germany's Berlinwasser International.

The company plans further moves in the booming Asian economy as the government begins to clean up the ill-effects of its rapid industrialisation.

Metito had previously said it was seeking to list its shares publicly this year, but Mr Ghandour said those plans were now postponed.

"Global markets have been extremely volatile," he said. "We don't want to be the first company out there to test the waters, and we're too small to take on a global trend."

Despite being based in Jebel Ali, Mr Ghandour said the eventual listing was likely to take place on London, Hong Kong or Singapore.

"We recognised - and it's a decision we've taken quite early on - that we're likely to be going on to an international market rather than a local or regional one," he said.

"We happen to be headquartered here, but the UAE is only one of our markets … we need a market which has liquidity, which has sophisticated analysts and that understands our sector."

Metito is 56 per cent owned by Gulf Capital, a private equity firm, with family shareholders owning 38 per cent of the company.

The International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank, owns the remaining 6 per cent.


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