CVC said to seek 1st Mideast deal


LONDONCVC Capital Partners is considering its first investment in the Middle East as Europe’s largest private equity company works to expand its business into new geographies, according to people familiar with the matter.

The London-based buyout firm has considered potential targets including United Arab Emirates-based shisha maker Al Fakher Tobacco Trading as well as education companies, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is not public. CVC was also one of the companies considering a bid for a stake in property developer Emaar Properties PJSC’s entertainment division, people familiar with the matter said previously.

CVC was in advanced talks with Al Fakher though discussions faltered, the people said. The buyout firm is also studying other potential transactions in the region, according to the people. No final agreements have been reached, and CVC may decide against pursuing investments in the firms, they said.

CVC’s push into the region is being led by Istvan Szoke, its London-based partner responsible for the firm’s emerging markets investments in Europe, the people said. Ozgur Onder, an MD, is also involved in identifying opportunities, they said.

The buyout firm has been looking at opportunities to make full or partial investments in the Middle East for some time and is attracted by the region’s young-andgrowing population, one of the people said. A sharp drop in oil prices in the last few years and its impact on local economies has also pushed some businesses to look for investors, the person said.

Foreign bidders have been buying more assets in the Middle East and Africa in the last 12 months, agreeing to spend US$28.5 billion (RM119.7 billion) in the period, 26% higher than the previous year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Inc agreed to buy Dubai-based online retailer in March in a bet that e-commerce in the region is poised to take off. — Bloomberg