Alpha Dhabi acquires majority stake in Dubai utility Metito amid sustainability push

Deal marks Abu Dhabi company’s strategic entry into the water and wastewater sector

Access to clean water is one of the most pressing issues around the world. Getty Images
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Alpha Dhabi Holding, a unit of Abu Dhabi's International Holding Company, has acquired a majority stake in Dubai-based water treatment specialist Metito, marking a strategic entry into the water and wastewater sector.

Alpha Dhabi will purchase the majority stake from a consortium of shareholders that includes Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, as well as Abu Dhabi-based private equity firm Gulf Capital, Alpha Dhabi said on Monday in a statement to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares are traded.

The size of the stake and terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Ghandour family, Metito’s founding shareholders, will retain their leadership roles, the statement said.

"This collaboration is more than a strategic business move, it’s a testament to Alpha Dhabi’s dedication to driving impactful change in the water sector and our broader vision of sustainable growth and global impact," said Hamad Al Ameri, chief executive and managing director of Alpha Dhabi.

In 2014, Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries acquired a 38.4 per cent stake in Metito Holdings, in a move that enabled the Dubai utility to accelerate its expansion in emerging markets.

Gulf Capital, which was Metito’s majority owner at the time, had sold 32 per cent of the company, leaving it with a 23.8 per cent stake.

The acquisition by Alpha Dhabi coincides with the UAE's hosting of the Cop28 climate change conference in November and comes at a time when the country has called for action to address global water scarcity.

Water security is one of the most pressing issues in the world and affects nearly four billion people at least one month a year, according to a paper published by the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last week.

Aside from expectations that the figure will grow, the paper warned that, based on current trends, water scarcity could lead to loss of life, food insecurity, economic underdevelopment, humanitarian crises, involuntary migration, geopolitical instability and the potential for armed conflict.

The Middle East and North Africa region tops global rankings of water-stressed regions, and every Mena nation will suffer extreme water scarcity by 2050, according to research by the World Resources Institute.

About 83 per cent of people in the region are living under extreme water stress, the report said, with more than 80 per cent of water supplies used for irrigation, livestock, industry and domestic needs.

The World Bank has said that by 2050, water scarcity could cost the Mena region between 6 per cent and 14 per cent of its gross domestic product.

“The need for sustainable water solutions has never been more critical. Our partnership with Metito is a decisive step towards addressing this pressing challenge," Mr Al Ameri said.

The acquisition underscores the company’s commitment to diversifying its portfolio and also bolsters Metito’s mission "to broaden smart water solutions" across the Mena region and beyond, aligning with the UN sustainability goals, Alpha Dhabi said.

In a separate statement, Karim El Solh, co-founder and chief executive of Gulf Capital, said: “Our journey with Metito started in 2006 with the founding Ghandour family and with the International Finance Corporation and, in 2014, with our valued Japanese partners, Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

“Our vision was to build a global leader in sustainable water solutions and, after 17 years together, Metito has become the uncontested global water leader operating in over 50 countries.”

Updated: September 25, 2023, 8:33 AM