March 23, 2017 / 6:28 AM / 5 months ago

Abu Dhabi's Waha Capital seeking to invest in Saudi Arabia -chairman

ABU DHABI, March 23 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi investment firm Waha Capital PJSC is in talks with potential partners in Saudi Arabia as it looks to diversify investment in some key sectors outside the United Arab Emirates (UAE), its chairman said.

Saudi Arabia is opening its economy to foreign investment as part of its 2030 vision whereby the Middle Eastern country will rely less on oil and create more jobs for its citizens.

Waha - which owns a stake in AerCap Holdings NV and has invested in the UAE's healthcare, financial and oil and gas services sectors - has the expertise and fire power to enter the Saudi market, Hussain al Nowais told Reuters after the company's annual general meeting late on Wednesday.

"It is time to look at opportunities outside the UAE. The Saudi market is similar to the UAE," he said. "Our entry could happen through new start-ups or acquisitions."

The company secured a $500 million credit facility in August and has around 600 million dirhams ($163.4 million) in cash to invest.

Waha, whose profit slumped last year, may monetise some investments as well as pursue acquisitions this year to lift profitability.

"At the right time, we may exit at a good price and look at acquisitions to enhance profitability for our shareholders," Nowais said.

Abu Dhabi-listed Waha's fourth-quarter profit tumbled to 19.5 million dirhams from 121.0 million dirhams in the year-earlier period. Profit for 2016 fell 30 percent.

The company also said it has no plans to sell its 25 percent stake in UAE-based consumer finance firm Dunia Finance. Shareholders of Dunia began a strategic review of the business two years ago, under which a stake sale was considered.

Shareholders of Waha approved a 20 percent dividend proposed by the board at the meeting. (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho)

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