DAVOS: With Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from oil dependence, Investcorp co-CEO Hazem Ben-Gacem has only one way to look — up.
“Today when you have the right vision, you have the right local infrastructure and local people, as well as the capital to go with that, these are the foundations of hopefully a terrific future,” he told Arab News at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.
“Saudi specifically has a very terrific, audacious plan for growth in the economy, driven by the 2030 vision, and that requires the capital that requires the resources to diversify and grow the economy way beyond the fossil fuel economy.”
Investcorp is one of the biggest and oldest global asset management companies in the region, specializing in alternative investments across sectors including private equity, real estate, credit and infrastructure.
Founded in Bahrain in 1982, the company has global investments in the US and Europe, as well as the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia and China.
Investcorp has more than $42 billion in assets under management and has been a major investor in the region, especially in Saudi Arabia where it has been heavily investing over the past 15 years, Ben-Gacem said.
The company, however, hopes to increase its assets to up to $200 billion and bring in investors from the Kingdom and other countries in the region.
Investcorp’s Saudi investments include Leejam, the biggest fitness group in the country; BinDawood Holding, the largest supermarket chain; Theeb, one of the largest car rental businesses; and Al Borg, the largest medical testing center.
Investcorp are currently raising two specific funds for Saudi Arabia.
The first one is the Saudi Pre-IPO Fund, a private equity fund investing in Saudi domiciled businesses, which will be prepared for a listing on the Tadawul Stock Exchange, Ben-Gacem explained.
The second one is an infrastructure fund that will focus on the social infrastructure investments in the region.
Ben-Gacem said that he was “very proud” that no other private equity firm has had as many listings as Investcorp has had on the Tadawul.
“I like to think that’s the beginning and there’s even more to come in the near future,” he said.
On new investment developments in Saudi Arabia, Ben-Gacem said that the company was a big fan of technology and hopes to soon announce a substantial investment in one of the largest technology businesses in Saudi Arabia.
The company hopes to support that business to expand globally. “That’s what Investcorp is good at, taking businesses global,” he said. “I think it’s about time Saudi businesses started to think global and started to act and sell their products and their services in a global manner.”
He added: “They have the competence, they have the products, the services, the people, and we are happy and proud to be supporting those businesses to do that.”