UAE firm Shuaa Capital seeks Middle East venture debt deals

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United Arab Emirates financial firm Shuaa Capital is seeking venture debt opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa and expects deals from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the next six months, an executive said on Thursday.

Fawad Tariq-Khan, Shuaa’s head of investment banking, told Reuters the Dubai-listed firm was also pursuing opportunities in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.

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“Where we come in would be either at the project conception stage, where banks would be less willing to finance ... or where we’re assisting - be it corporates, financial sponsors - to come in and acquire businesses as well,” he said.

Middle East investment companies have ramped up their lending to small and medium-sized firms in recent years as lower oil prices led banks to tighten credit after a rise in bad loans.

In March, Shuaa arranged a $50 million debt issuance for UAE agriculture technology start-up Pure Harvest. Tariq-Khan said similar venture debt deals can be expected.

“We remain very positive on the renewable energy sector in the region. As you know, there is a lot of growth in this space ... we’ve actually looked at a number of very specific opportunities in the past few months. We’re actively seeking these out.”

Shuaa is also looking at equity and other capital structures, he said.

It has paid out its previously declared 76 million dirhams ($20.69 million) dividend for 2020, Tariq-Khan said, adding it was its largest payout since 2008.

Capital from Shuaa’s divestment of its 20% stake in Mirfa Power Plant Company (MIPCO), in which Abu Dhabi state holding company ADQ is a large stakeholder, will be redeployed, he said.

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