Saudi Arabia remains an attractive destination for investors despite a sudden crackdown on corruption that led to concerns about transparency, according to a top executive at asset-management firm Investcorp Bank BSC.
“Saudi Arabia is still a big market in terms of fundraising and investing,” Hazem Ben-Gacem, head of the Bahrain-based firm’s European private equity business, said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Our businesses in the Gulf continue to thrive.”
The firm, which aims to double its assets under management to $50 billion in five years, is betting on investors’ fears being put to rest as the kingdom winds down the anti-corruption drive that led to dozens of princes and billionaires being detained in Riyadh starting in November. Saudi Arabia freed Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and several of the nation’s most prominent businessmen from detention this weekend, clearing the Ritz-Carlton hotel that served as their jail.
The Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation, named after the heir to the throne, sponsored a lavish lunch for Davos attendees on Friday, before U.S. President Donald Trump also addressed the gathering of the world’s elite.
Investcorp now has over $21.4 billion assets under management, spread over companies, real estate, alternative investments and credit management. The firm has started marketing its Gulf health-care fund, set to raise $750 million, and hopes to close a European technology fund raising $400 million by the summer, Ben-Gacem said. It is considering investments in companies including Saudi Arabian eye-care specialists Magrabi Hospitals & Centers, he said.
Magrabi is working with HSBC Holdings Plc on a potential stake sale in the business, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg last year.