Investcorp to fit out some of its part-owned Saudi gyms for women

Investcorp acquired a 25 percent stake in 2013 in Leejam Sports, which operates fitness clubs in Saudi Arabia under the Fitness Time brand. (Courtesy Leejam Sports)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Investcorp to fit out some of its part-owned Saudi gyms for women

ABU DHABI: Bahrain-based private equity firm Investcorp is turning some of the gyms it part owns in Saudi Arabia into women-only facilities in response to surging demand, its co-chief executive said on Thursday.
The move comes as the deeply conservative kingdom embarks on a transformation that encompasses giving women more freedoms, including being allowed to drive and attend sporting events.
“Recently the regulations were relaxed to allow women gyms. There’s tremendous demand, so we are re-purposing some of our existing gyms that used to be male-only to female-only,” Rishi Kapoor told reporters on the sidelines of a business event.
Investcorp acquired a 25 percent stake in 2013 in Leejam Sports, which operates fitness clubs in Saudi Arabia under the Fitness Time brand. Around 40 of the roughly 115 existing gyms will be refitted this year to become women-only, Investcorp said.
Kapoor said Leejam was a “likely candidate” for Investcorp to consider exiting its investment, but didn’t elaborate.
Investcorp has previously considered an initial public offering (IPO) for the company, but on Thursday declined to comment on any potential IPO.
Investcorp is looking at acquisition opportunities in Saudi Arabia arising from a push to privatize the economy, with a focus on health care, including long-term care, post-acute rehabilitation and preventative care, Kapoor said.
The company is in advanced stages of merger and acquisition deals in the Gulf, the US and Europe, he said.
Each of the deals would be within the company’s targeted enterprise value — equity plus debt — of $200 million to $500 million, he added.
Investcorp, founded in 1982, is one of the oldest Middle Eastern private equity houses and is best known outside the region for listing luxury goods brands such as Gucci and Tiffany & Co.
But the company is increasingly branching out into other sectors, with Kapoor highlighting infrastructure and credit as among those where it is scouting for acquisitions.
The company aims to raise its assets under management to $50 billion in five to seven years from $22.4 billion at the end of December.
In future, more of those assets are likely to come from Asia, where the company is placing greater focus since opening an office in Singapore last year.
Currently, around 35 percent of its assets are in the Gulf, with a similar proportion in the US and smaller one in Europe, Kapoor said.
Asia’s contribution will rise from less than 10 percent now to around 25 percent over five to seven years, he said.


Saudi minister Al-Falih says Aramco IPO likely in 2019

Updated 25 May 2018
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Saudi minister Al-Falih says Aramco IPO likely in 2019

  • Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih: “We are ready, the company (Saudi Aramco) essentially has ticked all the boxes. We’re simply waiting for a market readiness for the IPO.”
  • Khalid Al-Falih: “Most likely it will be in 2019 but we will not know until the announcement has been made. All I could say is stay tuned.”

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is most likely to hold the initial public offering (IPO) of oil giant Aramco in 2019, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said on Friday, confirming a delay from the initial plan to list the company this year.

“The timing I think will depend on the readiness of the market, rather than the readiness of the company or the readiness of Saudi Arabia,” Khalid Al-Falih, who’s also the company’s chairman, said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia on Friday.

“We are ready, the company essentially has ticked all the boxes,” he said. “We’re simply waiting for a market readiness for the IPO.”

For almost two years, Saudi officials said the IPO was “on track, on time” for the second half of 2018. But for the first time in March they suggested it could be delayed until 2019.

“Most likely it will be in 2019 but we will not know until the announcement has been made,” Al-Falih said. “All I could say is stay tuned.”

The Aramco IPO would be a once-in-a-generation event for financial markets. Saudi officials said they hope to raise a record $100 billion by selling a 5 percent stake, valuing the company at more than $2 trillion and dwarfing the $25 billion raised by Chinese retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2014.