Kingdom come

Saudi private equity firm Amwal Al Khaleej is offering investors access into the region's largest economy.

  • E-Mail
By  Andrew White Published  April 18, 2008

Saudi private equity firm Amwal Al Khaleej is offering Gulf investors a gateway into the region's largest economy. Managing director Ammar Al-Khudairy talks Andrew White through his ambitions for 2008.

Ammar Al-Khudairy has a busy schedule. Holding court in a 42nd-floor café in the Emirates Towers, he waves goodbye to a clutch of smart-suited gentlemen, before settling down to talk to Arabian Business. As is to be expected in the discrete world of high finance, he politely declines to identify his departing guests.

We bank on enhancing success; we don't do 'turnaround' types of transactions.

"That's the million dollar question," he laughs, pausing for a moment. "Actually, in this case, it's a bit more..."

The managing director of Saudi private equity (PE) house Amwal Al Khaleej is a man getting used to talking in billions, not millions - over the last 12 months the firm has executed 11 transactions in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and elsewhere in the region.

Since its inception in 2004, Amwal has secured stakes in a number of high-profile companies across the region, including Damas Jewellery, Dubai Contracting Company, Maritime Industrial Services, Arabia Cotton Ginning, Al Tayyar Travel Group and Right Angle Media. And although Al-Khudairy is visiting Dubai today, the fact that the company is indigenous to Saudi Arabia means that it has a distinct advantage over UAE-based firms looking to tap into the region's largest economy.

"Saudi has always been open to us, and that is what differentiates us," he insists. A case in point is an upcoming "UAE-based investment in the construction services sector", conducted alongside two major international banks, according to Al-Khudairy.

"[Having the banks join us] validates our methodology, our analysis and our ability to find and execute deals to international standards," he says. "In this particular case the company is growing fantastically well in the UAE, but it is looking to expand as well into Saudi Arabia - and we're acting as their gateway."

While the transaction's details could not be confirmed at the time of going to press, it is safe to assume that once on board, Amwal will not be a strictly silent partner. A quick glance at the company's track record betrays a tried-and-tested formula: the influential minority stake.

"We take one or two board seats but we don't control the company - we prefer to leave control to the existing shareholders or the founding partners, and to the existing management," says Al-Khudairy. "We bank on enhancing success; we don't do 'turnaround' types of transactions.

"The level of involvement varies from one company to another, but in each and every case we definitely get involved in the vision and the mission of the future of the company," he continues. "We take positions at a governance level, not a management level. That was the philosophy from day one."

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code