AerCap stake helps Waha Capital lift first-quarter profit

Company mulling new investment opportunities and was looking to spend Dh4 billion in health care, education, energy and infrastructure.

Waha Capital chief Salem Rashid Al Noaimi said the company was still weighing up new investment opportunities. Delores Johnson / The National
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The Abu Dhabi-based investment company Waha Capital said its first-quarter profit gained 20.2 per cent, boosted by a rise in earnings per share from its stake in the New York-listed aircraft leasing company AerCap.

The firm’s net income rose to Dh182.2 million in the first three months of the year from Dh151.6m in the corresponding period last year, the company said. It also said its profit was bolstered by strong growth from its investment in the consumer finance firm Dunia Finance and its capital markets division, which invests in credit and equity markets.

Looking ahead, the company’s chief executive Salem Rashid Al Noaimi said the company was still weighing up new investment opportunities and was looking to spend Dh4 billion in the fields of health care, education, energy and infrastructure.

He would not identify specific sectors within those industries that Waha is interested in.

“Lots of things are on the horizon,” Mr Al Noaimi said in a telephone interview after the company’s first-quarter results were released.

“Broadly we continue to look at sectors that have growth opportunities and that’s sectors such as health care, energy, infrastructure and education. These are spaces that we like and are looking at opportunities to deploy capital within those spaces.”

AerCap’s earnings per share have been boosted by its acquisition last year of the insurer American International Group’s aircraft leasing business, International Lease Finance Corporation, in a deal valued at more than $5bn.

Waha Capital has a 12.6 per cent stake in AerCap.

Mr Al Noaimi declined to comment on plans reportedly being made by shareholders of Dunia Finance, which also include Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi investment company, Temasek, a Singaporean wealth fund, and A A Almoosa Enterprises, a local family-owned business, to sell their stakes.

The sale might attract a bidding war from banks seeking to tap high-yielding individual customers, according to analysts. Or one shareholder may buy the others out, or the company may be sold in an initial public offering, analysts have said.

In the meantime, observers say shareholders will be keenly awaiting to hear from Waha on what it will be spending its war chest on.

“The first quarter is positive in the sense that it’s an improvement on the fourth quarter because I think that was a bit of a disappointment,” said Sanyalak Manibhandu, the manager of research at NBAD Securities.

“But what the market is really looking forward to is a sizeable announcement on fresh investments.”

Waha Capital, which co-founded the Mena Infrastructure Fund with HSBC Holdings in 2007, is considering a second such investment vehicle to profit from higher demand for building projects.

Waha Capital, which holds a 17.9 per cent limited partner stake in the fund, “is looking at the possibility of launching fund II”, Mr Al Noaimi said. Its size “will be north” of the $300m that the first fund raised, he said.

Mena Infrastructure Fund, which also has Fajr Capital as a co-sponsor, has invested in four projects including the Alexandria International Container Terminals in Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s Qurayyah Independent Power Project.

The size of Waha Capital’s investment in fund II is still being considered, Mr Al Noaimi said.

The shares fell 1.9 per cent to Dh2.55 in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

* with Bloomberg News

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