x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Masharie plans $190m spree

A Dh700 million investment spree is planned by the private equity arm of Dubai Investments, with Masharie planning to acquire a number of companies in 2011.

Masharie's investments are spread across many sectors, including construction materials, telecoms and interior design. Pawan Singh / The National
Masharie's investments are spread across many sectors, including construction materials, telecoms and interior design. Pawan Singh / The National

Masharie, the private-equity arm of Dubai Investments, is planning to invest as much as Dh700 million (US$190.5m) to acquire up to seven regional companies over the next year.

Abdulaziz al Serkal, the chief executive of Masharie, said the company may close three of those deals in the next few days for companies in the healthcare, education and oil and gas sectors.

Masharie's investment strategy comes on the heels of a recent surge of buyout activity among the region's private-equity firms, of which Dubai Investments is one of the emirate's largest.

Last week, Abraaj Capital purchased 49 per cent of Emirates NBD's payment-processing business for Dh2 billion in one of the largest private-equity transactions in the UAE in recent years.

Yesterday, Masharie announced it was selling a 50 per cent stake in Syscom Emirates, a telecommunications system integrator, to Inteltec Emirates, a subsidiary of Saudi Inteltec, a company based in Riyadh.

Mr al Serkal declined to disclose the financial details of the stake sale but said the proceeds would go towards its upcoming investments.

"What we are more looking at is more acquisitions than exiting [companies]," Mr al Serkal said. "We have about six to seven projects in the pipeline with three of them currently active that might [close] this month."

Mr al Serkal said there were no current plans to sell any other stakes among the 18 companies in its investment portfolio. Masharie owns or partly owns companies in a variety of sectors including construction materials, contracting, aluminium, telecoms and interior design.

"In the pipeline we don't have any exits, but we might find partners that might add to a [company] that we have," Mr al Serkal said. "This is not the right time to exit, except if we have the right partner."

The Syscom deal was the second in the past week for Masharie, after it acquired a 51 per cent stake in Technical Rubber, a rubber-products manufacturer based in Saudi Arabia.

Mr al Serkal said the conditions were favourable for the private-equity firm to explore further acquisitions as buyout activity had lowered valuations of companies in the aftermath of the recent financial crisis. "This is the right time that we acquire. Not very many people are acquiring now," he said.

There were just $1.48bn worth of buyouts involving companies in the Middle East in the third quarter of the year compared with $15.6bn in the same period last year, according to Zephyr Research Partners.

Masharie is 60 per cent owned by Dubai Investments and 8 per cent owned by National Bonds Corporation, with the remainder held by a selected list of strategic partners through private placement, according to Zawya Dow Jones. Dubai Investments is 11.5 per cent owned by the Dubai Government.

Dubai Investments plans to sell a 30 per cent stake in Masharie to the public next year. Mr al Serkal declined to comment on the firm's listing plans.