Gulf Islamic Investments, a Dubai-based financial services company, aims to boost its property holdings and step up its private equity investment this year as the global economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
The company will spend between $300 million and $400 million to acquire property in the Gulf, Europe and the US and will invest $200m in the private equity space in India and Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Alhassan, founding partner and co-chief executive, told The National.
“We have assets under management of $2 billion and we are trying to reach $1bn more until the end of the year … this includes real estate and private equity,” he said.
GII invests in sectors such as property, private equity and venture capital. Its clients include family offices, banks, institutions, sovereign wealth funds and wealthy private investors in the GCC and Asia.
It is regulated by the Securities and Commodities Authority.
The company bought a residential block in London’s West End for £60m ($83.3m) this month and another property in Paris for $300m in March. It is in the process of buying a commercial property in Florida and the deal will be finalised in the second quarter of this year, Mr Alhassan said. He did not disclose any more details about the investment.
GII has invested $1.2bn in the property sector over the past seven years, acquiring residential, commercial and industrial buildings in Dubai, the UK, France and the US.
The company bought an office building in the US state of Pennsylvania for $48m, an Amazon distribution centre in Germany for $144m and an Airbus property in Newport, Wales, for £30m. It also bought Realogy’s headquarters in New Jersey for $124m.
It also acquired a police station in Chelsea, west London, for redevelopment three years ago for an undisclosed amount.
In the UAE, it owns logistics centres and staff accommodation in Dubai Investment Park. The company is also the largest investor in Dubai e-commerce company Mumzworld.
GII will finance new deals through “our own balance sheet and syndicating it to our shareholders as well”, said Mr Alhassan.
The company has no plans to approach the bond market but will look to borrow money from banks in the future, he said.
“We have a strong relationship with local banks, as well as international banks, and we have transacted with them for almost half a billion dollars in terms of loans for our assets in the past seven years.”
In the private equity space, the company intends to invest in India and Saudi Arabia. In India, it will focus on the healthcare, technology and consumer sectors through its “India growth portfolio”, which is worth $60m.
“This is our second portfolio [in India]. We have already invested in health care. We own about 20 per cent to 25 per cent of four chain hospitals.”
GII is searching for “niche opportunities” in food manufacturing and other sectors in the kingdom.
It also plans to exit some of its investments this year in private equity and property. However, Mr Alhassan did not disclose which assets the company intends to sell.
Mr Alhassan is bullish about the London property market and said areas such as Mayfair and Chelsea are performing well.
“If you have new development and very good location, people will buy because it is a hub. There is still demand in the market,” he said.
Mr Alhassan said the company is “doing very good and we are profitable”, when asked about revenue targets for 2021, but did not disclose figures.
GII is evaluating an initial public offer but will make a decision on it when the “time is correct”.
Other companies in the region such as Bahrain-listed private equity and alternative asset manager Investcorp are also investing in property in Europe and the US as part of their expansion plans.
Bahrain’s Arcapita acquired a major distribution centre in the US earlier this month as it continues to expand its industrial property portfolio in the world’s biggest economy.