Saudi Arabias Public Investment Fund (PIF) is buying a stake in Adeptio, the UAE-based investment firm led by Emaar Properties chairman Mohamed Alabbar, which controls Kuwait Food Company (Americana).
Saudi Arabias main sovereign wealth fund would buy 50 per cent of Adeptio from billionaire Alabbar, who would keep the rest of Adeptio, according to news agency Reuters, which cited the fund as saying. Financial details of the deal were not revealed.
The PIF said that Adeptio deal was part of its efforts to boost investment in non-oil sectors and diversify its portfolio geographically and across asset classes, while securing long-term financial returns for Saudi Arabia.
PIF is at the heart of Saudi governments plan to diversify its hydrocarbon-dependent economy. Riyadh aims to inflate the funds size from about $160bn to estimated $2 trillion by transferring the ownership of Saudi Aramco, the worlds biggest oil exporter, to PIF once it floats less than 5 per cent of the oil and gas giant on Saudi bourse. PIF is mandated to invest at home and abroad to generate investment income for the kingdom, which is facing a financial squeeze on the back of sliding oil prices.
Adeptio, earlier this year agreed to pay KD2.650 ($8.819) for each share of Americana, valuing the deal at $2.36bn. The consortium has reached a binding agreement with Al-Khair National for Stocks and Real Estate, which is controlled by the Kuwaiti Al-Kharafi family. The investment firm is buying Al-Khairs 69 per cent stake in the company and it is preparing to launch a mandatory takeover offer for the remaining shares of Americana at the same price.
Al-Khair had been trying to sell its stake in Americana, which owns the Middle East franchises for fast food chains KFC and Pizza Hut and also produces branded consumer foods, since early 2014. The company has operations across 13 countries and over 60,000 employees.
Founded in 1971 to finance development projects in the kingdom, PIF plans to increase the proportion of its foreign investments to 50 per cent by 2020, up from 5 per cent now.
The Adeptio transaction is the first big food sector deal announced by the PIF this year. Previously, it focused on the technology sector .The PIF has already made major investments in US online transportation firm Uber and the new Middle East e-commerce site Noon. The wealth fund has also agreed to start a $100bn technology fund with Japans Softbank Group Corporation.
It is also considering increasing its stake in local power developer Acwa Power to up to 35 per cent, and will also take ownership of the King Abdullah Financial District, in a deal currently under negotiation with the PPA.