Investment banking arm of Qatar’s Barwa scours Turkey for deals

Investment banking arm of Qatar’s Barwa scours Turkey for deals

ISTANBUL – Reuters
Investment banking arm of Qatar’s Barwa scours Turkey for deals The investment banking arm of Qatar’s Barwa Bank is looking for investments in Turkey, in sectors ranging from real estate to food, and could spend more than $150 million per deal, its acting chief executive said on March 1.

“Considering its growth potential, stability, strong regulations and corporate governance, we are looking to invest in Turkey,” Yousef Al Obaidan, acting head of the investment banking arm, The First Investor (TFI), told Reuters in an interview in Istanbul.

“We’re talking to many companies and having negotiations.”

TFI has not specified a budget for Turkey, although its existing holdings in the Gulf region average around $100-$150 million per investment, Al Obaidan said. Individual investments in Turkey could exceed that, he said.

The bank, which is also involved in private equity and asset management, is particularly interested in Turkey’s real estate, healthcare, education and food and beverage industries, Al Obaidan said.

While investor confidence in Turkey has been shaken by concerns about the independence of its central bank and violence in the mainly Kurdish southeast, it has a young, fast-growing population, making it particularly attractive to investors in consumption-driven sectors.

Last year, Japanese drinks firm Dydo Drinco spent $110 million to acquire three Turkish beverages makers, in a deal it said was a long-term bet on the Turkish consumer.

Turkey’s population is expected to rise to more than 93 million by 2050 from over 76 million in 2013, according to government statistics. The median age is just over 30, lower than anywhere in Europe.

TFI has a total of $400-$500 million invested in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom, Al Obaidan said.

In the United States, it exited a $800 million development project two years ago and is now looking to invest again in real estate, he said.

It is already active in Turkey, where Kiler, a real estate investment trust (REIT), mandated it in December for the sale of the Istanbul Sapphire shopping center and residence.

There is “strong interest” from international investors in that sale, Al Obaidan said.

TFI parent Barwa is 53 percent owned by the Qatari government through Qatari Holding LLC and other government funds. Barwa has been expected to list on the Qatar stock exchange for the past few years but no date has been set.