Bahrain fund open to McLaren IPO even as it grapples with Brexit

DUBAI • Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund remains open to an initial public offering (IPO) of McLaren Group Ltd, though it isn’t in a rush to sell its controlling stake in the supercar maker and Formula One racing team.

“When we think it’s the right time, we’ll go” for an IPO, said Mahmood Al Kooheji, CEO of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co. “We’re a happy investor in McLaren.”

While UK-based McLaren will be affected by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it will need to “redefine a solution for it”, Al Kooheji said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Manama, Bahrain. “Life goes on.”

McLaren is Mumtalakat’s biggest investment in Europe. Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings plc and Bentley Motors Ltd have been making arrangements to do what they can to avoid problems with their supply chains as British Prime Minister Theresa May considers a plan to delay Brexit and stop the UK leaving the European Union with no deal next month.

The Bahrain fund is confident 2019 will be a better year, Al Kooheji said. The fund has been seeking to diversify away from the Middle East where it holds 63% of its US$15.4 billion (RM62.52 billion) portfolio. About 29% of its holdings are in Europe, while North America accounts for 8%.

Al Kooheji also said Asia is a “very interesting area” and the fund is keen to invest there.

Turning a profit on Gulf Air isn’t a priority as “it’s a bridge that’s serving the economy”. Gulf Air can become profitable, but it would come at the expense of connectivity needed by Bahrain’s business community. — Bloomberg