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Carlyle On Track for Saudi Food Processing Deal

The Carlyle Group is moving ahead with plans to buy a food processing company in Saudi Arabia by the end of the year, Reuters reported. The firm, which said in April that it was aiming for deals in Saudi Arabia, did not disclose terms of the deal or the name of the company.

(Reuters) – U.S. private equity giant Carlyle Group is on track to acquire a food processing company in Saudi Arabia by the end of the year and is scouting for more deals in the Gulf region, a senior executive said on Monday.

In April, the private equity firm which manages around $153 billion of assets globally, said it expected to complete a deal in Saudi by the end of the year.

“We are looking to close one transaction in Saudi Arabia before the end of the year. It is in the food sector,” Firas Nasir, managing director for Carlyle and the executive in charge of the firm’s Dubai office said on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

He did not reveal the name of the company or the amount of money the firm was looking to invest.

Carlyle raised $500 million in 2007 for its debut fund in the Middle East and North Africa. In the Gulf, it has so far only invested in General Lighting Co, Saudi Arabia’s largest lighting fixtures manufacturer and supplier.

Nasir said the private equity firm preferred investment in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom offered a clear exit route via initial public offerings (IPO). There have been three IPOs in Saudi Arabia this year compared with a dearth of listings elsewhere in the region. Dubai had not seen an IPO in more than three years.

“We pursue investment opportunities which would make attractive IPO candidates, as this is our primary path to exit,” he said on the sidelines of a Super Returns private equity conference.

Earlier this year, Carlyle’s co-founder David Rubenstein said the firm is still looking at deals in the Middle East region and the unrest has not yet had an impact on the private equity firm’s portfolio companies there.

Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi government fund, brought a 7.5 percent stake in Carlyle in 2007, and invested a further $500 million in December last year. (Reporting by Dinesh Nair, Editing by Erica Billingham)