Saudi's Alkhabeer eyes 2014 IPO - sources

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Alkhabeer Capital, a Saudi Arabian Shariah-compliant investment company, will launch a US$400m investment fund targeting assets in Saudi Arabia and Europe.

Alkhabeer Capital, a Saudi Arabian Shariah-compliant investment company, will launch a US$400m investment fund targeting assets in Saudi Arabia and Europe.

Alkhabeer Capital, a Saudi Arabia-based investment advisory firm, plans to offer new shares worth about 30 percent of its capital in an initial public offering (IPO) on the local bourse by early 2014, its CEO said.

Alkhabeer, in which conglomerate Saudi Binladin Group is a top shareholder, is awaiting the regulatory nod to initiate the IPO process, CEO Ammar Shata said in Dubai.

The Jeddah-based firm, which manages assets worth around $700 million, was formed in 2004 and raised about $210 million in capital from more than 30 shareholders after receiving an investment banking and asset management license from the Saudi regulator, the Capital Market Authority (CMA).

"We are waiting for the signal from the regulator. The plan is to go public by 2014 and a potential listing will not just help us raise new money but also enhance our branding and public image," Shata said on Wednesday.

Alkhabeer is bullish on real estate opportunities in the United States and UK, Shata said, adding those investments offer attractive returns for the coming 18 months.

The firm is working with investment management companies in the United States to jointly develop real estate investment trusts (REITs) to tap the opportunity, Shata said.

The firm has already invested $300 million in U.S. real estate so far in 2012, he said, adding it plans to stay away from equity-related investments in the coming year except for some pre-IPO opportunities.

REITs can earn rents on leased properties and also capture the operating income from those facilities by retaining independent management for a fee.

"Real estate income-generating investments in the US and UK is a great investment opportunity in the coming months," he said.

Asked whether the investment firm was looking to Asia and other emerging markets, Shata said: "I think the right opportunity today is in the UK and US... The reason the Western world is advanced is that they correct their mistakes quickly and they only make mistakes once."

The firm is also staying cash-heavy with about 30 percent of the portfolio in cash, awaiting opportunities created mainly by the Arab spring revolts, the executive said.

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