Emaar Chairman Leads Investor Group Buying Americana Stake

  • Dubai-based investor group led by Emaar's Mohamed Alabbar
  • Deal brings to conclusion at least two years of takeover talks

A Dubai-based investor group led by Emaar Properties PJSC Chairman Mohamed Alabbar plans to take a 69 percent stake in Middle East fast-food operator Kuwait Food Co. valued at about $1.8 billion and said it will offer to take over the remaining shares.

Adeptio LLC signed an initial accord to buy the stake in Americana, as Kuwait Food is known, from Al Khair National for Stocks and Real Estate LLC, according to a company statement on Thursday. The group will then start a mandatory takeover offer under local stock exchange rules, it said. There was no mention of Emaar involvement in the statement.

The agreement culminates an on-off sale process stretching back at least two years in which Kuwait’s Al-Kharafi family had tested investor interest in the company without concluding a deal. Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Pte and Saudi Arabia’s Savola Group teamed up to bid last year, while KKR & Co. and CVC Capital Partners Ltd. made an offer in 2014, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time. BRF SA, the Brazilian food maker, had also held talks with the company, its chairman said in an interview in 2014.

A 69 percent stake in Americana is worth about 532 million dinars ($1.77 billion), according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Americana shares rose 5.3 percent to 2 dinars at the close in Kuwait, trimming its decline over the past 12 months to almost 30 percent. No financial details of the transaction were given.

“Americana is a truly unique asset with a long and successful history," Alabbar said in the statement. "We see a bright future for Americana and look forward to working with management to realize the significant growth potential in the business going forward."

Franchise Operator

Americana is the franchise operator of restaurants such as KFC, TGI Friday’s Inc. and Pizza Hut in the Middle East and North Africa region. Founded in 1964, Americana also manufactures produce including California Garden beans and Farm Frites frozen vegetables. 

Kuwait’s Al-Kharafi family has interests in the construction, telecommunications and financial industries. The company posted net income of $183 million for the fiscal year ending 2013 on sales of about $3 billion. Rothschild & Co. advised Al Khair on the deal, a spokesman for the bank confirmed, without providing further details.

Alabbar Investments

The Americana acquisition is the latest in a series investments for Emaar’s Alabbar. In addition to his role at the Dubai-based property firm, he is a board member of Abu Dhabi-developer Eagle Hills, which employs a team of former Emaar executives.

Eagle Hills this week signed an agreement with Sharjah Investment & Development Authority and Emaar to set up a new real estate firm called Omran Properties. In Egypt, Capital City Partners, a company also founded by Alabbar, is working with the government to develop a new administrative capital east of Cairo.

Alabbar founded Emaar in 1997. Under his leadership, the company developed Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower in Dubai, and expanded into more than 18 countries.

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