Mubadala remains focused on growth of UAE portfolio companies

Abu Dhabi's strategic investment arm is keen to team up with global players and develop the country’s high-tech manufacturing sector

Badr Al Olama, head of Mubadala’s UAE clusters and of the GMIS Organising Committee, speaking at the opening ceremony of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
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Mubadala Investment Company, Abu Dhabi’s strategic investment arm, is focused on growth of its portfolio companies in the UAE and is looking at investment and building partnerships in life sciences and high-tech manufacturing sectors.

“At the moment, we are going to grow our assets more than anything else and that is the focus of our portfolio companies: growth, growth and growth,” Badr Al Olama, the head of Mubadala’s UAE clusters, has said told The National on the sidelines of Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit on Monday.

Mubadala intends to make its UAE portfolio companies “not just national, but global champions”, and is pushing for scale to expand beyond the UAE, he said, adding it is important to expand the footprint, considering the global competitive environment.

“When you realise that you are competing with a chain of operations that is spread across a continent, or various continents, your competitiveness reduces,” he said.

“So at the moment we are trying to tell Strata … and other companies to grow and expand, not only in the aerospace and other sectors, and not only in the UAE, [but] also in other countries and look for partnerships."

Mubadala is looking at "creating transformative businesses for Abu Dhabi”, Mr Al Olama, who also heads the GMIS Organising Committee, said.

Mubadala is at the heart of the government’s plans to diversify Abu Dhabi's revenue base and generate income from sources other than oil. The company’s portfolio of investments spans five continents with interests in aerospace, information and communications technology, semiconductors, metals and mining, renewable energy, oil and gas, and petrochemicals.

The UAE portfolio of the sovereign fund, with an asset base of $243 billion, includes aerospace manufacturer Strata, Sanad Group, Al Yah Satellite Company (Yahsat), Mubadala Health, Green energy company Masdar and Emirates Global Aluminium, among others.

The fund listed Yahsat on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange earlier this year, however, it doesn’t plan to sell shares in more portfolio companies in the near future, Mr Al Olama said.

“When you talk about Yahsat, [it] had already reached maturity, which made sense for it to go for a listing,” he said. “As a portfolio [owner and] as an investor, we reassess now and then, but at the moment the focus is on growth.”

The fund, which has pivoted further to technology, healthcare and investments into green assets in the past few years, is keen to partner with global players and develop the country’s high-tech manufacturing sector.

“If you look at sectors, specifically manufacturing, in the Emirates, we should be focusing on high-value and low volume” industries and that is “the sweet-spot where we can become competitive”, Mr Al Olama said.

The potential investment deals in the technology sector could mean basing some manufacturing capabilities in the UAE and “some capability complimenting other parts of the world” because the value chain of the technology sector is huge, he said.

Mubadala also sees potential in investments in cutting-edge of the life sciences sector where it is “in active search of the right partner and the right opportunity”. The company is also seeking investments in energy transition, primarily in green hydrogen where it is exploring different investment options.

Mubadala is part of a hydrogen alliance with Abu Dhabi’s holding company ADQ and state-controlled Abu Dhabi National Oil Company to develop the emirate’s hydrogen economy.

“The alliance is to align our different activities,” he said, adding that the entire value chain is analysed before identifying a “solid opportunity where we can act as an alliance and deliver and execute that project”.

Mubadala is also bullish on forming partnerships with other regional investors to explore complimentary investments that would help to compete globally.

“We haven’t found an opportunity at this point in time but I’m quite optimistic and bullish that we will very soon, especially with a conference like this,” Mr Al Olama said.

Updated: November 23, 2021, 8:39 AM