Gulf investors led by Emaar chairman agree Americana stake purchase

A group of Gulf investors led by the Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar has signed an initial agreement to buy a majority stake in Kuwait Food Co (Americana) worth US$1.8 billion from Kuwait’s Al Kharafi family.

The Dubai-based investment company Adeptio has agreed to buy the stake in Americana held by Al Khair National for Stocks and Real Estate Company, Adeptio said in a statement.

Al Khair, a Kharafi Group company, has a 69 per cent stake in Americana, which has a market capitalisation of 804 million Kuwaiti dinars (Dh9.82 billion). Neither of the companies revealed details of the deal in their statements.

Adeptio also plans to launch a mandatory takeover offer for Americana shares in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Kuwaiti Capital Markets Authority and Kuwait Stock Exchange, it said.

The sale of the stake is subject to due diligence and approval by the regulatory authorities and franchisers of Americana, which has the Middle East franchises for the fast food chains KFC, Pizza Hut, Hardee’s, TGI Friday’s, and Baskin Robbins, among others.

The company also produces various food brands such as California Gardens, Gulfa water, Heinz and Farm Frites.

Bader Al Kharafi, who serves as the vice president of several businesses as part of the Kharafi conglomerate, told The National details of the deal will be revealed once the due diligence is over.

“Americana is a truly unique asset with a long and successful history,” Mr Alabbar said. “We would be delighted to have the opportunity to become part of this great legacy that Americana has built over the last five decades. We see a bright future for Americana and look forward to working with management to realise the significant growth potential in the business.”

Mr Alabbar is the founder and chairman of Emaar Properties, Dubai’s biggest listed real estate company. Several other Gulf investors are represented in Adepito, the company said without naming them.

Americana reported flat net profit for the third quarter of last year. Profit rose 0.7 per cent to 11m dinars even as revenue from its food and retail outlets, and food industries rose.

The Al Kharafis put Americana up for sale about two years and various groups were linked to the sale, including Saudi Arabia’s Savola Group.

The Al Kharafi family is mentioned in Forbes list of billionaires and has stakes in National Bank of Kuwait, the country’s biggest lender, and Mobile Telecommunication Co, or Zain, the country’s biggest telecoms operator.

Americana shares closed yesterday up 5.2 per cent at 2 dinars in Kuwait.


Dania Saadi

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