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

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.


Chinese artificial intelligence company files $1.4 billion lawsuit against Apple

Updated 03 August 2020

Chinese artificial intelligence company files $1.4 billion lawsuit against Apple

  • Xiao-i argued that Apple’s voice-recognition technology Siri infringes on a patent that it applied for in 2004

SHANGHAI: Chinese artificial intelligence company Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Co., also known as Xiao-i, has filed a lawsuit against Apple, alleging it has infringed on its patents.
The company is calling for $1.43 billion in damages and demands that Apple cease “manufacturing, using, promising to sell, selling, and importing” products that infringe on the patent, it said in a social media post.
Xiao-i argued that Apple’s voice-recognition technology Siri infringes on a patent that it applied for in 2004 and was granted in 2009.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment. Reuters was not immediately available to find a copy of the court filing.
The lawsuit marks the continuation of a row that has been ongoing for nearly a decade.
Shanghai Zhizhen first sued Apple for patent infringement in 2012 regarding its voice recognition technology. In July, China’s Supreme People’s court ruled that the patent was valid.