The Business Year

Anwar Al Jabri

OMAN - Finance

Anwar Al Jabri

CEO, Jabreen Capital

Bio

Anwar Al Jabri is the CEO of Jabreen Capital, chairman of U-Capital, and deputy chairman of Ahli Bank. He previously held various senior positions prior to Jabreen Capital, including investment director at Oman Investment Fund (OIF), CEO of National Pioneer Investment & Development Co., and other positions in the Central Bank of Oman and Oman Refinery. He has more than 21 years of experience in the investment and finance industry, where he has held various leadership positions. He holds a bachelor’s in accounting and an MBA and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Jabreen Capital seeks to become a one-stop shop private equity and investment banking house catering to the region with a global footprint.

What have been some of the recent developments at Jabreen Capital?

Jabreen Capital has evolved from a private equity player to include full-fledged investment banking. Jabreen’s overall mandate has expanded to grow its overall private equity and investment banking presence in Oman, the region and internationally. We raised our stake in our investment banking arm, Ubhar capital (U Capital), from 36% to 66%. Also, in 2020, U Capital merged with Gulf Baader Capital Markets and further solidified its position as the leading investment bank in Oman with a regional presence. Our business model in private equity is to acquire businesses, locally or internationally, come up with value-add initiatives to enhance the value of the company, and then exit to generate returns. In the education space, we acquired a significant stake in ABQ Schools (Al Omaniya Education Services) in 2020, Oman’s largest education platform comprising three schools providing international education across Muscat and Sohar. Additionally, we have acquired significant stakes in schools in the UAE and Saudi Arabia over the past four years. Within the insurance sector, our portfolio company IGI is listed on NASDAQ through a combination with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). We utilized this opportunity to partially exit our stake at attractive valuations. In Southeast Asia, our private equity platform known as EastBridge Partners launched its third fund and substantially increased its assets under management in 2021, despite a tough environment to raise funding due to COVID-19. In addition, we increased our stake in Happycall, South Korea’s leading kitchenware brand, at highly attractive terms. In Oman, in the listed space, we increased our stake in Takaful Oman to become the largest shareholder. In private equity space, after increasing our stake in Gulf Acrylic and Shamal Plastic, a leading manufacturer of thermoplastics, to over 50% during 2019, our strategic and operational value-added initiatives led to over 300% growth in net profits during 2020.

Which sectors are most attractive to continue diversifying your business portfolio?

Jabreen Capital has a large exposure to investments in Oman especially in the financial services space. We are now looking at diversifying our portfolio geographically and into non-cyclical sectors, with a focus on Southeast Asia at this stage. We decided to invest in Southeast Asia after a thorough screening process where we analyzed global megatrends that are driving the world such as demographics, technological progress, corporate governance, GDP growth, fiscal discipline, and other macro factors. To solidify our presence in Southeast Asia, some employees of Jabreen Capital have been transferred to Eastbridge partners, our private equity partner in Southeast Asia. In terms of sectors, we are looking at diversifying our portfolio away from cyclical sectors such as financial services and commodities to secular growth sectors such as education, healthcare, logistics, and technology. In terms of asset classes, we are looking to build our private equity portfolio on the back of an established track record and experienced team of professionals. Private equity investments yield higher returns over the long term as compared to other asset classes.

What is your vision for further expansion?

There is a clear market gap—there are no existing leading investment banks or private equity houses in Oman with domestic or cross-border focus. We have strong capabilities and expertise to develop a full-scale investment bank and a private equity house. We have significant balance sheet capacity to provide growth capital to portfolio companies and underwrite new investments. Our vision is to be a one-stop shop private equity and investment banking house catering to the region with a global footprint.

How do different associates and subsidiaries work together to encourage innovation, investment and sustainability?

As part of our investment strategy, we work toward deriving revenue synergies between our portfolio companies. Examples include working on captive business opportunities and cross selling of products and services. We encourage technological innovation and adoption at our portfolio companies to be ahead of the curve and to avoid getting disrupted.

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