Investcorp plans $1 bln infrastructure investments in Saudi, Gulf & MENA - joint CEO

RIYADH, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Bahrain-based Investcorp plans to invest at least half of its $1 billion GCC Infrastructure fund in Saudi Arabia as it seeks to take advantage of investment opportunities in the kingdom, its co-chief executive said on Wednesday.

“It will focus on healthcare, education, social housing, infrastructure roads, utilities,” Hazem Ben-Gacem told Reuters, adding that the remainder would be invested in other Gulf Arab states and the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The firm wants to be active in projects such as ports in Oman, utilities in the United Arab Emirates as well as the toll road infrastructure in Bahrain, he said in an interview on the sidelines of a Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh.

Investcorp has been one of the largest and most active private equity investors in the Saudi Arabian market, investing over $700 million in the last 10 years, Ben-Gacem said.

Those investments include Saudi Fitness Centre, Leejam Sports Co, car rental firm Theeb and L’azurde, the Arab world’s leading maker of gold jewelry.

“We have been able to find attractive investments, manage them and exit them,” he said.

He said the company could be a catalyst for the transition and evolution among some of Saudi Arabia’s family-owned established firms from private to public companies.

InvestCorp plans to launch its second PE-MENA (Private Equity - Middle East North Africa) fund soon, which is likely to be $400 million, with HarbourVest as an anchor investor, he said. The fund invests in private firms in MENA.

Outside the Gulf region, the two core historic markets for Investcorp are Europe and North America. “We invest in excess of $1 billion in equity and $800 million a year in real estate.” (Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Writing by Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)