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KUWAIT - Finance

Abdullah Mohammad Al-Shatti

CEO, A’ayan Leasing Investments Co.

Bio

Abdullah Mohammad Al-Shatti is a qualified Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and holds MBA in finance from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and a bachelor of engineering – computer engineering from Kuwait University. He started his career at the engineering training program of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. He then moved to private equity department at Kuwait Financial Center Company. He joined A’ayan Leasing & Investment Company in 2006 and has held several positions until he was appointed CEO. He is a board member on several investment and real estate companies across the GCC and is Chairman of Mubarrad Holding Company.

"People are starting to believe and trust in the vision of both the country and the government, and we are witnessing changes in the way assets and resources are managed."
Listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange in 2002, A’ayan Leasing Investments Company is a successful shariah-compliant investment organization.
What is the mandate and the unique approach of the company?

A’ayan’s establishment processes started in 1998. Initially, the company was based on two pillars: operational and financial leasing of vehicles and real estate. This is mainly due to the background of the major shareholders such as the families of Alghanim and Behbehani. Because of the success that we had during the first two to three years, we also entered more areas of investment; both in equity and companies. By 2008, the company had grown exponentially. At that time, we had total assets of almost USD1.5 billion, and we expanded considerably in both real estate and equity investments. Most of the investments we made were basically strategic investments in which we took on the major shareholding of companies. We also made many investments in the leasing area because of our expertise. We were active in the heavy equipment, medical, and office leasing businesses. Unfortunately, the global financial crisis in 2008 impacted us dramatically. As a major investment company at that time, our total debt was around USD1 billion. Because of the liquidity issue, the mismatch between the liquidity of assets and liabilities, we had discussions with our creditors in search for the right solution for everyone. We successfully made a restructuring plan, and by 2012 we had signed it with the majority of our creditors. We decided to find a new plan and successfully settled almost all our debts by 2020. Now, we are in a particularly healthy position. A’ayan did not lose any momentum during those years. We invested in many areas, either directly, or through our subsidiaries and associates. All those activities continued over the years, and I believe our restructuring experience is rather unique in the market, in terms of a company achieving a healthier position with satisfied creditors. We are proud of the success story of our settlement and the current strong financial position of A’ayan. In Kuwait, there are the main market and the premier market in the stock exchange. A’ayan is currently on the watchlist to be promoted in 2023 to the premier market. This is what we are planning to do and it will give us a great opportunity for further success.

What investment opportunities do you see in the market and where can we expect the most pronounced growth over the coming years?

People are starting to believe and trust in the vision of both the country and the government, and we are witnessing changes in the way assets and resources are managed. Going forward, I believe many of the involvement and contributions of the private sector will happen and should happen. There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that the government is serious when it comes to improvements. For example, in 2022 alone, we, as a company, have participated in three projects that the government presented to the private sector. Now, the government is aware that there is a better role for the private sector, and they are starting to act on this potential. It appears that the government is willing to open the door for the private sector to invest in certain major infrastructure projects. The second area, which is crucial for the country to find the right solution for, is housing. The government is working to establish appropriate regulations and an alternative solution to expedite the process through the private sector involvement. And such an opportunity will get many different companies from various sectors involved, which is great as it moves the economy forward. Kuwait is also making huge investments in major infrastructure projects in the country, e.g., the refinery or the port to the North. We believe that those major projects will play an important role in the coming years, and can only hope for stability within our region.

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