Saudi fund buys into firm controlling food group Americana

Americana operates nearly 1,700 outlets for regional franchises of Pizza Hut, KFC, Krispy Kreme and other Western brands

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The Saudi Public Investment Fund announced yesterday evening that it will buy 50 percent of the stock of the Adeptio Group LLC from Emirati businessman Mohammed Alabbar, through the (Saudi company for Food Investments in the Gulf), exclusively owned by the Saudi Fund for public investments.

The announcement comes after the Emirati company for investment - Adeptio - acquired about 67 percent of the Kuwaiti Food Company (Americana). Adeptio plans to launch a compulsory buyout of the remaining shares in Americana owned by other investors, while Mohamed Ali Rashid Alabbar will keep 50 percent of the shares of the group along with the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

Since the establishment of Americana group in Kuwait in 1964, it has grown to become one of the most successful companies in the region, with a presence in more than 13 countries and more than 60,000 employees. It is also the largest operator of restaurant chains in the Middle East and one of the most successful franchise companies in the world. As for the manufacturing sector and food processing, Americana has many high-quality brands.

The Fund's decision to be a part of the deal within the framework of public investment is an effort to increase the volume of investments in non-oil sectors and build a portfolio with an extensive geographical location to ensure economic diversity in addition to achieve long-term financial returns for Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund owns a diverse business portfolio with 200 investments, including 20 listed on the Saudi stock market as well as the assets listed. The fund also manages a number of investments not included in the stock market as well as foreign investment companies and real estate holdings, loan bonds and treasury bills. The Saudi public investment fund currently has about 600 billion Saudi riyals worth of investment.

Economic analyst Fadel Al Buainain asserts that the Fund's decision to invest in Americana reflects the strategic plans of the company in the food sector, stressing that this deal will result in more diverse investments, away from the oil sector, in addition to geographical and sectoral diversification.

In an interview with Al Arabiya, Al Buianain pointed out the change of business action of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, by entering in virgin sectors and buying well established successful companies.

In spite of the economic and income variables in the Kingdom and the Gulf states in general, Al Buanain said that the food sector was way more developed, and is an irreplaceable strategic sector. He described the decision to invest in Americana as a positive step to invest in the right direction.

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