Mubadala to expand UAE companies' operations to compete globally

Executive director of UAE clusters at the sovereign fund, Badr Al Olama, outlines ambitious 'natural growth strategy'

Badr Al Olama, executive director, UAE clusters at Mubadala Investment Company, at the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Mubadala Investment Company aims to expand the operations of its UAE companies and help them to become “globally renowned competitors to the biggest companies out there in their sector”, a senior executive has said.

The UAE portfolio of the sovereign fund, which has an asset base of Dh1.04 trillion, includes aerospace manufacturer Strata, Sanad Group, Al Yah Satellite Company (Yahsat), Mubadala Health and clean energy company Masdar, among others.

“The time has come for us to expand beyond UAE and it is a natural growth strategy for all of UAE companies, especially the big ones,” Badr Al Olama, executive director of UAE clusters at Mubadala, told The National on the sidelines of the Global Aerospace Summit at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

“Even the industrial companies that you have in different emirates, I think the realisation is now you need to be global in your activities.”

Abu Dhabi-based Masdar is already active in a number of countries across the globe with its renewables portfolio, while Mubadala Health last year acquired a majority stake in United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical) to expand its portfolio of healthcare assets beyond the UAE to Saudi Arabia.

The 60 per cent stake acquired from Saudi Arabia’s Jadwa Investment and UAE-based United Eastern Group will add multiple hospitals and clinics that are owned and operated by UEMedical in the UAE and Saudi Arabia to Mubadala Health’s portfolio.

Mr Al Olama said that Mubadala Health was "doing phenomenally well". He added that the group is now "building up their segmentation of the patient care and they are completing the segmentation from all the way from maternity and paediatrics to adult healthcare".

“We believe in Yahsat’s model, " he added. "They have five satellites and provide coverage to 80 per cent of the population. They are in voice, they are in data, they are able to provide connectivity to remote areas but also inside cities.

"It is home grown both from a business perspective, but also the capability side and they are trying to figure out the next big thing.”

Founded in 2007, Yahsat operates in more than 150 countries across five continents. Its five satellites reach more than two thirds of the world’s population. The company is planning to launch Thuraya 4 Next Generation satellite (T4-NGS) next year.

Another Mubadala unit, Masdar, continues to expand its operations to boost its renewables portfolio globally. It aims to reach a total renewable capacity of 100 gigawatts in the future from 15 gigawatts at the end of 2021.

Last year, Masdar entered new markets including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Greece, Iraq and Poland, extending its renewable energy investments to more than 40 countries with a combined value of more than $20 billion.

A Strata manufacturing unit in Al Ain. Photo: Strata

"They (Masdar) started with nothing and they are aiming for 100 gigawatts. At that time, nobody thought it was possible. Look at it today — it is a company [that] countries are asking for their involvement for this whole renewable drive."

Mubadala is also looking to diversify operations of aerospace companies Strata and Sanad to include biopharma and energy transition segments, Mr Al Olama said.

Based in Al Ain, Strata manufactures aircraft components and has billion-dollar contracts with Boeing, Airbus, Leonardo in Italy and Switzerland’s Pilatus Aircraft.

Sanad was formed in 2019 after Mubadala merged three of its units — Sanad Aerotech, Sanad Powertech and Sanad Capital.

It provides financing, leasing and maintenance services to the global aerospace, energy and industrial sectors.

“We are planning to invest in new sectors, driven by macro trends, and macro trends are related to life sciences and energy transition,” he said.

In 2020, Strata outlined its plans to diversify into health technology as the Covid-19 pandemic boosted demand for medical equipment. Strata began producing N95 masks in partnership with Honeywell in May 2020, before seeking to begin exports.

Mr Al Olama said: “We are asking them (Sanad and Strata) to look into new sectors. For example, Sanad we want them to do maintenance of all the solar plants that exist today.

"They do it today with Shams 1 (solar plant) and work closely with Masdar in providing maintenance services there. It is a trend that is growing and we believe there is a bigger play for them there.”

He reiterated that "Sanad is very profitable and Strata is on the way", as the two companies continued to expand their operations.

On future IPO plans for some of the companies following the listing of Yahsat last year, he said it is “too early”.

“Yahsat was put into a position where it was ready for listing. Strata is still in a growth mode.

"At the moment, the focus and attention for us is completely on getting Strata to the point where the vision was to become a globally renowned national champion in advanced manufacturing.”

Updated: May 26, 2022, 8:32 AM