Dubai group pays $2.4 billion for control of Kuwait's Americana

DUBAI (Reuters) - An investment group led by prominent Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar has agreed to buy a majority stake in Kuwait Food Co (Americana) FOOD.KW from the Kharafis, a wealthy Kuwaiti merchant family, for about $2.4 billion.

Under a legally binding agreement with Al Khair National for Stocks and Real Estate, controlled by the Kharafis, all of Al Khair’s Americana shares will be bought at 2.650 dinars each, the group, named Adeptio, said on Saturday.

That represents a 26 percent premium over their last market price.

Al Khair had been offering a 69 percent stake in Americana, which owns the Middle East franchises for fast food chains KFC and Pizza Hut and also produces branded consumer foods.

The deal appears to end one of the region’s longest running acquisition sagas. The stake had been up for sale since early 2014. Adeptio originally agreed in February to buy the stake, but that agreement collapsed at the end of May. Reuters reported last week that talks had restarted.

After Adeptio completes the purchase of the stake from the Kharafis, it will launch a mandatory takeover offer to remaining Americana shareholders at the same price under Kuwaiti securities rules, Adeptio said.

"We look forward to building on Americana’s success and taking advantage of the growth potential of the business going forward," Alabbar, also chairman of Emaar Properties EMAR.DU, Dubai's top real estate firm, said in a statement.

To help finance its initial deal, Adeptio aimed to secure a $1.5 billion bridge loan from a group of banks including Standard Chartered, Credit Suisse, Emirates NBD and First Gulf Bank. Sources familiar with the agreement said the same banks would be involved in financing any new deal.

Reporting by David French; Writing by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Jon Boyle