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Saudi group buys UAE investment firm

hanco logoHanco, a Saudi Arabian auto rental company, said it acquired U.A.E.-based Byrne Investments from a private-equity group previously owned by HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) for 600 million dirhams ($163 million).

Hanco, majority-owned by closely-held Bin Sulaiman Holdings, is buying Byrne’s equipment rental operations and modular building services business from Dubai-based Havenvest Private Equity Middle East Partnership, it said today in a statement.

Persian Gulf companies are stepping up acquisitions as financial markets improve and confidence in the economy recovers. Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. said March 2 it will pay $1.6 billion to buy two hydroelectric power plants in India with partners, while Emirates Telecommunications Corp. is completing the acquisition of Vivendi SA (VIV)’s controlling stake in Maroc Telecom SA for about 4.2 billion euros ($5.7 billion).

“Acquisitions will help drive growth for us in the coming years,” Hamad Al Sulaiman, chief executive officer of Hanco, said in a March 24 phone interview. “As strategic buyers, we are here for the long-term.”

Havenvest manages $600 million in assets through two funds, according to its website. HSBC sold 80.1% in Havenvest in a management-led buyout in 2012. The company is evaluating three further investments, Al Sulaiman said, without giving further details.

Hanco, based in Jeddah, was set up in 1976 and operates a fleet of more than 20,000 vehicles. It has 130 outlets in the kingdom. Byrne, one of the largest general rental companies in the region, has 450 employees and 13 offices and rental depots across the Gulf, Hanco said.

Abu Dhabi-based First Gulf Bank (FGB) partly financed the Byrne acquisition, Hanco said. GIB Capital, the investment banking arm of Gulf International Bank and Baker & McKenzie advised Hanco on the transaction.

Gulf Capital, an Abu Dhabi-based private equity firm, said today the initial public offering of its Gulf Marine unit implied gross gains of more than $600 million on the business.-Bloomberg