Abraaj in $55m Jordan privatisation

The Middle Eastern private equity firm has acquired the Jordanian aircraft firm Joramco through a privatisation.

Abraaj Capital, the Dubai-based private equity firm, has acquired an 80 percent stake in Jordan Aircraft Maintenance Ltd.

The firm's Abraaj Buyout Fund acquired the company, also known as Joramco, in a $55.1 million LBO. A press release said that the company had won an auction against four other bidders.

Joramco is being sold off as part of the Jordanian government's privatisation programme, which is intended to boost investment in the country.

The company, one of only three aircraft repair and maintenance companies in the region, was previously owned by the country's government-owned airline Royal Jordanian. The airline will retain a 20 percent stake in the company following the transaction.

Humayun Shahryar, executive director and head of direct investments at Abraaj, said in a press release that the firm had been attracted to the investment because the rapidly expanding Middle Eastern airline business offered potential for growth.

The firm now intends to diversify the services offered by the company, and plans heavy investment in IT, infrastructure, marketing and a new hangar to satisfy an expected increase in market demand.

Abraaj Capital is one of the region's largest private equity firms. It specialises in buyouts in the Middle East and North Africa, and also invests in South Asia. To date it has completed almost $500 million in private equity transactions.

Closed in June 2003 with total commitments of $116 million, the Abraaj Buyout fund was the first buyout fund focusing on the Middle East region. Its current portfolio includes Bahrain-based financial services company Amwal Capital, Pakistani securities and investment banking firm BMA Capital Management, and United Arab Emirates water treatment system company Septech Emirates.

Last June it exited from Oman investment company ONIC Holding on the Muscat securities market. It currently hopes to list transport company Aramex International on regional stock markets.