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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

NBK Capital Partners aims to boost assets to $2bn by 2025

The asset manager is looking to boost existing portfolio and launch a new investment platform focused on technology

The Dubai International Financial Centre Gate. NBK Capital's headquarters is at the DIFC and it also has offices in Turkey, Bahrain and Kuwait Sarah Dea / The National
The Dubai International Financial Centre Gate. NBK Capital's headquarters is at the DIFC and it also has offices in Turkey, Bahrain and Kuwait Sarah Dea / The National

NBK Capital Partners plans to grow its assets under management from $1.2 billion to $2bn by 2025 and will launch a new investment platform focused on technology.

Senior managing director Yaser Moustafa told The National that the lender intends to grow its managed asset base through new deals.

It will also boost its investment in its existing portfolio of healthcare, pharmaceutical and e-commerce companies.

“What we are really excited about is that we think 2021 and 2022 will be [a] really exciting time to be investing capital in the region,” Mr Moustafa said.

“Private equity and private credit – both of these asset classes will be really of interest for those who know what they are doing and [how to] raise capital.”

NBK Capital Partners, an alternative asset manager that is a subsidiary of Kuwait's biggest lender, runs closed-ended, third-party funds that invest in private equity, private capital and property.

It plans to launch its new technology platform within the next 12 to 24 months, Mr Moustafa said.

“We continue to develop our existing platforms ... but I think you can see us doing something in the technology [sector] within the region,” he said.

“That will be a new sector or asset class or a fund – whatever you want to call it, will be the investment theme for us.”

NBK Capital Partners has historically invested in the consumer sector.

“So, if you look at technology, it will be consumer-focused [such as] FinTech and e-commerce,” Mr Moustafa said.

The company currently runs seven funds and is in the process of closing of its eighth investment fund – a private credit vehicle.

“We already had our first close [of the fund] and we will be making an announcement shortly with a very prominent anchor investor,” he said.

However, he declined to provide further details.

NBK Capital's headquarters is at the Dubai International Financial Centre and it also has offices in Turkey, Bahrain and Kuwait. It plans to expand its presence in Saudi Arabia, the biggest economy in the region, and Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation.

In terms of its existing private equity portfolio companies, NBK Capital plans to inject funds into 4Sale International, a Kuwait-based online classifieds sales company, to help it expand into other markets.

Mr Moustafa said revenue hit a record in the last half of 2020 as business boomed.

NBK Capital also intends to channel funds into Morocco’s generic pharmaceutical company Polymedic, which it acquired in 2019.

Mr Moustafa said the pharmaceutical sector has strategic importance in the region.

"It has been a great performer in the region – all things considered in 2020. We would look to grow that platform as well,” he said.

The company does not plan to exit any investments in the short run, given the current low valuations of assets.

“If somebody gives us a great price for our technology business we will consider it ... but the flip side of low valuations and attractiveness of [putting] capital [to use] this year, makes it less likely that we will try to push for exits in our [private equity] portfolio,” he said.

Set up in 2005, NBK Capital invests in the GCC, Turkey and North Africa. It has made about 35 investments, with 17 “profitable exits” that returned about $700 million in capital to investors, he said.

Mr Moustafa is bullish about the prospects of the private equity market and fundraising in the region, despite the failures of companies such as Abraaj and Al Masah Capital in recent years.

“Vintage years matter in private equity and private capital around the world, even more so within the region and within emerging markets,” he said.

“I think the vintage years of 2021 and 2022 would be among the best in the history of private capital in the region.”

Updated: January 18, 2021 02:57 PM

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