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Sun 1 Mar 2015 01:47 PM

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UAE's Gulf Capital says planning 4-6 acquisitions in 2015

Abu Dhabi-based private equity firm is aggressively chasing consumer-related deals, says chief executive

UAE's Gulf Capital says planning 4-6 acquisitions in 2015

Abu Dhabi-based private equity firm Gulf Capital may complete between four and six acquisitions this year, its chief executive said on Sunday, as consumer-driven sectors in the Gulf's economy are expected to grow despite lower oil prices.

"We're looking aggressively on anything consumer-related," Karim El Solh told reporters on the sidelines of a business conference in Abu Dhabi. "I think we expect to do, between private equity and credit, around four to six transactions this year."

The private equity house is considering investments in healthcare, retail, food and education, Solh said. "These sectors are growing very nicely and aren't affected by lower oil prices."

Solh also said there were potential deals at lower valuations in the energy sector, while infrastructure and logistics were interesting sectors.

The firm, which manages AED12 billion ($3.3 billion) across private equity, credit and real estate segments, last year launched its third private equity fund of $750 million to invest in 10 to 12 companies.

Solh said his company had no current plans to conduct an initial public offer of its shares.

"We realised with liquidity being plenty, banks lending at very attractive rates, it was much more optimal for us to fund us using the debt markets."

In February, Gulf Capital said it had sealed an AED850 million syndicated loan facility to help fund its investments.

Last July, people familiar with the matter told Reuters that Gulf Capital was considering an IPO to obtain more capital and expand its activities in the region. One said a listing was likely to occur on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

However, as oil prices slid at the end of 2014, dragging regional stock markets down with it, many companies that were said to be planning listings changed their minds; the head of the Abu Dhabi bourse said there had been many postponements.

Solh said that if excitement and interest in equity markets picked up again, the firm would consider an IPO.

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