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Abraaj co-founder in talks to buy RAK Ceramics

Shirish_Saraf|By K Raveendran|

Samena Capital, an investment firm founded by Shirish Saraf, a former colleague of Arif Naqwi in Abraaj Capital, is in talks to buy as much as 50 percent of RAK Ceramics, the world’s biggest maker of ceramic tiles, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Established in 2008, Samena Capital focuses on the Subcontinent, Asia, Middle East and North Africa, collectively the SAMENA region.  It currently manages total capital commitments of approximately US$700 million across three primary investment strategies: private equity, credit and hedge fund seeding.

Saraf was the co-founder and managing director of Abraaj Capital from January 2002 to July 2007 and served as a Managing Director of Aramex International Limited. He pioneered the special opportunities concept at Abraaj Capital which he founded in 2007. He also served as the Managing Director at Oriel Investment Company, where he was the founder and chief executive officer from 1998 to 2002.

Saraf had also served as the Head of Direct Equity Investment and Syndication Activity at TAIB Bank from and was responsible for setting up a $50 million Everest India Fund as well as establishing TAIB Capital Corporation. He also worked with ANZ Investment Bank’s Capital Market Group from 1991 to 1994.

Bloomberg reported that Samena is in discussions with the ruling family of Ras Al Khaimah to buy a 25 percent to 50 percent stak.  Samena, which focuses on investments in emerging markets with offices in London, Dubai and Hong Kong, is holding talks without a financial adviser and there is no certainty a deal may be reached, the agency said quoting people familiar with the matter.

RAK Ceramics recently said it has hired Barclays and BNP Paribas to explore “a range of strategic alternatives and transactions”. The company exports to more than 150 countries, according to information on its website.

RAK Ceramics profit last year climbed 27 percent to AED 282 million, the biggest jump in full-year profit since 2009. The shares almost tripled in 2013 and have jumped 25 percent in Abu Dhabi this year, giving the company a market value of AED2.93 billion ($797 million).