ACWA Power: A success story for Harvard Business School case study
If Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty members want to pick an outstanding Saudi success story in business strategy and global growth, ACWA Power is the obvious choice.
Since its inception in 2004, ACWA Power has grown rapidly both in Saudi Arabia and internationally and evolved into one of the leading independent power generation and desalinated water producers in the world today. Contributing to the acceleration of energy transition, ACWA Power made its claim to fame by delivering power and water at the lowest cost, setting unbeatable tariff benchmarks.
From the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia to the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, from Sudair in central Saudi Arabia to Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan, from NEOM in northern Saudi Arabia to Ouarzazate in Morocco, to name a few, ACWA Power is managing 64 assets in 13 countries, with more than 3,500 employees around the world.
As a vote of confidence in its vision and management, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) has made a series of investments since 2013 (via its subsidiary Sanabil). The most recent acquisition was last year, when it increased its stake to 50 percent, as part of its strategy to support the development of the renewable energy sector.
It is expected that ACWA Power will play an integral role in the development of PIF’s renewable energy program. PIF is known to be a long-term investor and is committed to actively enabling the development of key economic sectors, such as renewables, in Saudi Arabia, especially with ACWA Power playing a significant role in diversifying economic growth in the Kingdom, with attractive returns for investors.
Recently, ACWA Power joined the “Shareek” program, which will triple its planned investments. Shareek — the Arabic word for partner — will facilitate investments of SR5 trillion ($1.3 trillion) from Saudi private sector businesses by 2030, led by Saudi Aramco, SABIC and ACWA Power, thus enabling the private sector to create thousands of jobs.
ACWA Power makes a perfect case study for HBS to be taught to future global business leaders.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini
A key factor of ACWA Power’s outstanding success is its leadership: Its board of directors and its management. Over the years, I have come to know a few board members, including the co-founders, Mohammad Abunayyan and Sulaiman Al-Muhaidib, who represent prominent old trading families with outstanding leadership in the Saudi private sector and philanthropy, and the vice chairman, Thamer Al-Sharhan.
Its management enjoys a sterling track record, including Chief Executive Officer Paddy Padmanathan, the engine behind the company’s speedy growth globally, Chief Investment Officer, Rajit Nanda, Chief Financial Officer Kashif Rana and Chief People Officer Yara Anabtawi, who was a member of the BMG Financial Group team before joining ACWA Power. Without a doubt, ACWA Power makes a perfect case study for HBS to be taught to future global business leaders.
• Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group