• Mumtalakat downgraded in February
  • Fund tapped capital market in late 2014
  • Aims to target international acquisition opportunities

Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat is aiming to close at least one global acquisition in 2015, says the fund’s CEO Mahmood Hashim al-Kooheji.

“We are actively looking for investment opportunities and hopefully will announce some,” he tells MEED on the sidelines of a conference in Bahrain on 2 March.

He did not disclose the location of the potential acquisition, but said his focus was global as opposed to just being within the Gulf markets.

Mumtalakat was part of a consortium led by Fajr Capital and including the US investment fund Blackstone, which acquired a minority stake in Gems Education, the UAE-based provider of private education, in October 2014.

The deal reflected the fund’s transition from being primarily focused on the domestic Bahrain market to looking at more regional and global opportunities.

At the end of February, rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgraded Mumtalakat’s rating by a notch to BBB-/A-3.

The downgrade followed the earlier downward revision of Bahrain’s sovereign rating made as a result of S&P’s concerns about the impact of low oil prices on the government’s financial position.

Al-Kooheji says that neither the downgrade nor the low oil price would affect the fund’s appetite for investment.

“Mumtalakat has not depended on any funding from the government, we have also funded ourselves,” he says.

In 2014 the fund tapped the capital markets raising $600m seven-year sukuk in November to refinance a previous obligation. It also raised a $500m revolving credit facility in January 2015.

Mumtalakat returned to profitability in 2013 after five years of losses, due to improvements to the country’s struggling state-owned airline Gulf Air.

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