Gulf firm bolsters Asia capabilities

Asiya Investments has launched a Hong Kong-based entity to manage its emerging Asia investments and recharge its private equity investment activities.

Asiya Investments, a Gulf Corporation Council investment firm that specialises in bridging the gap between the Middle East and emerging Asia, has strengthened its presence in the region by establishing a Hong Kong-based operation, according to a company statement. 

Asiya, which raises capital from Middle Eastern investors and invests via private equity, real estate and public equity, will use Asiya Investments Hong Kong as a hub for the firm’s Asia-based investment activities.

The new Hong Kong presence will allow the firm to increase its private equity activities specifically, Asiya managing director Ahmad Al Hamad explained to Private Equity International. 

“Private equity as an asset class requires you to be on the ground, roll up your sleeves, be close to your portfolio companies, manage them and be actively involved, not be minority passive investors. Due to our new presence in

Due to our new presence in Hong Kong, we are re-engaging the asset class

Ahmad Al Hamad, managing director, Asiya Investments

Hong Kong, we are re-engaging the asset class,” he said. 

Asiya invested in a number of companies in Asia via private equity between 2007 and 2010, including Indian bank HDFC and a Philippine-based construction company. The firm will now once again ramp up its private equity programme using a co-investment model, inviting investors to come in on its deals, rather than through a blind-pool fund.

Al Hamad also noted that the firm is mostly bullish on mezzanine and credit funding in Asia.

“We are much more keen on investing in private equity through mezzanine structures. We think that many European banks that were historically in this region have withdrawn and companies needing financing don't have much [access] to credit. Mezzanine is an interesting space and provides us with a higher level of security than equity and also lends itself nicely to Asian companies that don't necessarily want to dilute their equity,” he says.

Asiya Hong Kong will be managed by executive directors Sulaiman Alireza and Dan Xystus. The Hong Kong office will have a 20-strong team of investment professionals who will focus on building Asiya's direct investments as well as public market activities across emerging Asia.

“Historically, there has been an under investment from the GCC into Asia relative to the region’s share of global growth. Now we're finding increasing demand from Arab investors for detailed knowledge of the investment landscape in Asia,” Al-Hamad said in the statement.

He continued, “We're also going to use our base in Hong Kong to facilitate joint ventures between companies in Emerging Asia and the GCC, as we see an intensifying level of economic and social engagement between the two regions.”

Asiya Investments currently has $500 million in assets under management, according to the firm. Key investment sectors for the firm include energy, real estate, infrastructure, financial services and consumer products. Asiya also provides co-investment opportunities as well as research and advisory services on direct investments, acquisitions and joint ventures.