By Hadeel Al Sayegh
RIYADH (Reuters) – Oman’s sovereign wealth fund, the Oman Investment Authority, is considering investing in the United Kingdom’s technology sector to take advantage of valuations hit by rising interest rates and the fall in sterling, an OIA executive said on Wednesday.
Ibrahim Al Eisri, director general of private equity at OIA, told Reuters the wealth fund was looking at unlisted technology firms in the UK and expanding them.
The UK’s economy is experiencing a cost-of-living crisis as Rushi Sunak became its third prime minister in two months on Tuesday.
“We are looking at some deals right now, given the market provides an opportunity right now to enter,” he said on the sidelines of FII, Saudi Arabia’s flagship annual investment conference.
Al Eisri said now was the best time to monetise assets compared with two years ago amid the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that OIA had exited four investments outside Oman last year.
The region’s oil giants, Saudi Arabia’s Aramco and Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC, have in recent years raised tens of billions of dollars through IPOs, including of Aramco and several ADNOC subsidiaries and joint ventures, as well as selling stakes in their pipeline infrastructure.
Oman has plans to publicly list 30 companies over the next five years, he said.
The Gulf is enjoying an IPO boom at the moment, with the governments of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai pushing state-led flotations to boost the competitiveness of their equity markets.
Issuers in the region have raised more than $15 billion from IPOs in the year through mid-October, according to Refinitiv data. Their proceeds in the first half exceeded European flotations, the data showed, even as world markets remained volatile due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He added that OIA invited investors two weeks ago to look at opportunities in the mining sector and is also planning the same for the fisheries sector.
The fund is focused on alternative energy technology, logistics and messenger-RNA technology used in some COVID-19 vaccines. He added that OIA is close to investing in a port in Zanzibar.
(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh in Riyadh; Writing by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Yousef Saba in Dubai; Editing by Hugh Lawson)