Samena Capital Said in Talks for Stake in U.A.E.’s RAK Ceramics

Samena Capital, an investment firm managing about $700 million, is in talks to buy as much as 50 percent of RAK Ceramics, the world’s biggest maker of ceramic tiles, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Samena is in discussions with the ruling family of Ras Al Khaimah to buy a 25 percent to 50 percent stake, the people said, asking not to be identified as the talks are private. Samena, which focuses on investments in emerging markets with offices in London, Dubai and Hong Kong, is holding talks without a financial adviser and there is no certainty a deal may be reached, the people said.

RAK Ceramics said March 9 it hired Barclays Plc and BNP Paribas SA to explore “a range of strategic alternatives and transactions” after Bloomberg News reported that the banks are advising the family, which rules one of the seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates. The company exports to more than 150 countries, according to information on its website.

Merger and acquisition activity in the Middle East is picking up as financial markets improve and companies seek regional expansion. Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. said March 2 the company and its partners will pay $1.6 billion in cash and assumed debt to buy two hydroelectric power plants in India, while Emirates Telecommunications Corp. is in the process of completing its acquisition of Vivendi SA’s controlling stake in Maroc Telecom SA for about 4.2 billion euros ($5.7 billion).

Shirish Saraf, Samena’s co-founder and chief executive officer, declined to comment. RAK Ceramics said it hasn’t got any “intimation” from shareholders of an ownership change.

RAK Ceramics profit last year climbed 27 percent to 282 million dirhams, the biggest jump in full-year profit since 2009. The shares almost tripled in 2013 and have jumped 25 percent in Abu Dhabi this year, giving the company a market value of 2.93 billion dirhams ($797 million).

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