Private Equity Discovers Deals in the Middle East

Finding fertile ground in an area viewed mainly as a source of funds
Pizza Hut restaurant in Kuwait City Photograph by Tim Brakemeier/AP Photo

KKR, Blackstone Group, and other large private equity firms have long parachuted into the Middle East to hunt for cash from the region’s sovereign weatlth funds and family investment offices, only to carry it back to make investments in Western companies. Now they’re putting money to work in the region. Private equity acquisitions in the Middle East and Africa have jumped to $6.6 billion this year from $141 million in the same period in 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In one deal, at least three buyout firms including CVC Capital Partners and KKR are bidding for Kuwait Food, operator of 1,500 KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants in the Middle East and North Africa, say people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private.

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