Waha Capital and AXA to close MENA deal by 2011

Waha Capital, the Abu Dhabi-based private equity firm, is working on a deal in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region with France’s AXA Private Equity, the company said. Waha also has a $500 million MENA Infrastructure Fund, which it launched in 2006 jointly with HSBC and Dubai International Capital (DIC), which is about one-third invested, they said.

(Reuters) – Waha Capital aims to close a regional private equity deal in early 2011 in partnership with France’s AXA Private Equity, a Waha executive said on Wednesday.

Waha is eyeing joint investments with AXA in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, said Wael Aburida, director of M&A and strategic investments.

“We are looking at opportunities exclusively together. Our goal for the first deal is first quarter 2011,” he told Reuters at a private equity conference, declining to elaborate.

The Abu Dhabi government holds a 15-percent stake in Waha, according to Reuters data. The firm is involved in real estate and leasing for the oil and aviation sectors including deals for military planes for the UAE Armed Forces.

Paris-based AXA PE is a unit of insurer AXA and has $25 billion under management.

Waha, whose past private equity deals include investing in Gulf oil and gas group GMMOS through its Waha Maritime unit, also plans to launch some funds to invest primarily in the UAE and the Gulf Arab region, Aburida added.

“The sectors are opportunistic but core areas are industry, manufacturing, healthcare and education.”

A $500 million MENA Infrastructure Fund launched in 2006 jointly by Waha Capital, HSBC and Dubai International Capital (DIC) is about one-third invested currently, he said.

(Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Amran Abocar)