Kanoo Group to launch two new investment entities

Exclusive: Gulf conglomerate creates KAAF Investments and Kanoo Capital as part of ongoing restructuring
Kanoo Group to launch two new investment entities
The Kanoo Group, one of the Gulf’s largest and oldest family businesses, is creating a number of new ventures as it undergoes a restructuring to “professionalise” the business.
By Sarah Townsend
Tue 17 Oct 2017 08:36 AM

The Kanoo Group, one of the Gulf’s largest and oldest family businesses, is creating a number of new ventures as it undergoes a restructuring to “professionalise” the business, Arabian Business can reveal.

Like many family businesses, 125-year-old Kanoo Group is putting in place succession plans to ready the firm for its next chapter of growth, including removing some family members from management roles and bringing in outsiders to head up a newly organised group.

The restructuring began around two years ago. In an interview with Arabian Business, group chairman Mishal Kanoo said the firm has “changed the guards” by appointing new senior executives, and is also preparing to launch two new investment ventures.

One of these is called KAAF Investments and is set to be launched later this year. It will focus on “strategic operational investments” in healthcare, education and other socially orientated sectors, for example schools for autistic children, the CEO of the new venture said.

Maurice Ghattas was appointed CEO of KAAF Investments in September. He joined from Aban Investments, part of UAE conglomerate Ghobash Group, and was previously group CEO of Kanoo Group between 2013 and 2014.

He told Arabian Business he was “thrilled to be re-joining Kanoo Group and working with Mr Mishal again”.

A full strategy for KAAF Investments is being drawn up, but Ghattas said that, unlike the private equity model, KAAF will seek to make long-term investments of 10-15 years plus.

It is hoped the entity will complement another new venture, Kanoo Capital. This was established to “professionalise our investment arm”, the chairman said.

Kanoo Capital is headed up by chief investment officer Kevin Murphy, who was appointed to the group around two years ago. It will aim to make investments in the conventional private equity space.

Kanoo said: “The idea is to look at our current portfolio, weed out investments we don’t want and build up a war chest to go and acquire new assets that fit our strategy going forward.”

He declined to say how big a fund the group has, and added that all planned investments will be vetted by a dedicated committee.

He also declines to predict what industry sectors will Kanoo Group’s growth in future.

“It’s hard to pinpoint,” he said. “I define the world as two worlds right now: the old world and the new world. The old world being FMCG, oil and gas, retail, and the new world being anything to do with IT.

“It’s hard to choose which ones to [hedge your bets on] as it’s questionable whether the main players in the old world will survive or not, or if those in the new world will still be the kings of that world five years down the line.”

Kanoo Group was founded in Bahrain in 1890 and also has offices in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UK, France and India, and more than 4,000 employees. Its interests span sectors including real estate, travel, shipping, machinery, logistics, energy, industrial chemicals and retail.

Read the full interview with Mishal Kanoo in Arabian Business later this month

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