Apeiron Investment Group to bring 10 portfolio companies to UAE next year

Company controlled by billionaire investor Christian Angermayer is also looking at new investment targets in the country

Apeiron Investment Group, the private investment company of billionaire investor Christian Angermayer, is looking for new investment opportunities in the UAE and plans to move as many as 10 portfolio companies to the Emirates next year to expand its presence in the region.

The five to 10 companies that will have a “strong presence” in the Arab world’s second-largest economy will include several biotechnology firms, Mr Angermayer told The National on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi Finance Week.

“We got to move several of our biotech companies here. We'll not just do an office here but do clinical studies, which will be groundbreaking because, to my knowledge, we are the first or one of the first to do so,” he said.

Abu Dhabi has a strong focus on developing the biotech industry and it needs “specialised people” for the “high-intellect sectors” it aims to develop, he added.

“We are very pleasantly surprised that Abu Dhabi has a great healthcare infrastructure, from universities with early stage science to hospitals which allow our biotech portfolio companies to do clinical research and drug development approval studies here on the ground,” Mr Angermayer said.

Apeiron, with a biotech portfolio that includes Atai Life Science, Mubadala Investment Company-backed Rejuveron and Cambrian Bio, has $500 million in investable cash at its disposal and could also explore the option of launching mental health clinics in the country.

“So we are looking at businesses like we invested in [already] and are thinking to start here,” he said. “Because we're very big in mental health and biotech as investor … maybe we can start mental health clinics here.”

The option to launch its own ventures in the UAE or invest in existing businesses remains open across its core areas of life science, FinTech, crypto technology and future tech as well as the hospitality and leisure industries.

Last week, Apeiron announced its new regional headquarters at Abu Dhabi Global Market, one of the fastest growing international financial centres in the Middle East.

The company’s Middle East operations will be co-run by its regional director Salvatore Lavallo, who joined the investment company from the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, where he served as the head of FDI attraction, together with Aaron Weaver, a senior partner at Apeiron.

The company also plans to use the Abu Dhabi base for its sub-Saharan Africa business, which will primarily focus on investments in natural resources projects and hospitality real estate.

Apeiron is already an active investor in the UAE. Its US venture capital fund Presight Capital invested in the seed round of corporate spending management platform Alaan.

The company is also an investor in Abu Dhabi-based Applied Artificial Intelligence Company, known as AAICO.

It is difficult to predict how many more deals Apeiron will be able complete in the next year or two in the UAE because there are no set targets and investment decisions will be dictated by how many potential investments it can identify, Mr Angermayer said.

“We are here now,” he said. “If we find the right companies, it could be 10 of them.”

Apeiron’s expansion into the UAE is part of the company’s broader plans to expand its portfolio of investments over the next five years.

The company currently manages $2.5 billion in assets, half of which is funds it manages on behalf of external investors. Apeiron plans to change the split and significantly boost the external capital under management.

“At the moment, the outside money is about $1.25 billion, and we want growth there … [and] my internal goal [is] $5 billion in five years,” he said.

The company will also look to raise capital for the funds it manages as well as for the portfolio companies it will bring to the UAE to help them grow and create a long-term economic effect in the country.

Mr Angermayer is bullish on the prospects of cryptocurrencies despite the recent debacles that shook the markets and raised questions on viability of digital currencies as an asset class.

“It’s good that bad actors were washed out [but] would have been better if there hadn't been bad actors in the first place,” he said.

Although the fall of FTX and the recent regulatory problems faced by Binance have brought a lot of negative attention to the industry, its fundamentals are strong and Bitcoin continues to strengthen despite the roller-coaster ride, Mr Angermayer said.

“Yes, crypto had a year or 18 months where there were several, let's say, debacles,” he said.

“But that happened in other industries as well. You had Enron [failure] and we didn't say energy trading is bad. You had Lehman [collapse] and you don't say banking is bad.”

Updated: November 29, 2023, 7:19 AM