x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Waha plans oil and gas sector move

Waha Capital plans to switch focus to the oil and gas services sector for growth after fourth-quarter profits plummeted.

Waha Capital plans to switch focus to the oil and gas services sector after fourth-quarter profits fell by almost half.

Abu Dhabi's Waha, which is best known for its aircraft leasing business, is aiming to acquire further assets in the hydrocarbons services sector.

"One of the sectors we're very interested in is the oil and gas support service sector, mainly focusing on the offshore support vessel space," said Salem Al Noaimi, Waha's chief executive. "We have specific targets, [we are] looking at three or four opportunities."

High oil prices and Abu Dhabi's ambition to increase production capacity are encouraging investment in the oil and gas sector. The benchmark Brent index averaged at US$111 a barrel last year, and geopolitical tensions in parts of the Gulf and a European embargo on Iranian crude will likely keep prices high this year.

The company is part-owned by Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. It is listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and has an portfolio spanning investment banking, aircraft leasing, land development and oil and gas offshore services.

Waha profits declined 46 per cent in the final quarter of last year compared with a year earlier, as the investment climate worsened during the Arab Spring and the sovereign debt crisis erupted in Europe. Full-year earnings dropped to Dh155.3 million (US$42.2m) from Dh249m in 2010. The company attributed the earnings decline to AerCap, its aircraft leasing arm, in 2010.

"2011 is not a bad year, we're talking of generating 7.1 per cent return on investment. I suspect very few investment companies made an ROI [return on investment] close to what we did," said Mr Al Noaimi. "We are prepared for a tough 2012."

He added that a solid financial footing would allow the company to bypass the debt markets this year, as all commitments were covered.

If acquisitions were made, he said, then Waha might tap the markets with a Dh1 billion convertible bond, approved by shareholders in 2010. "Depending how things go in 2012, we may look at that at the end of the year," said Mr Al Noaimi.

fneuhof@thenational.ae

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