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Abraaj to invest 2bn riyals in Saudi Arabia

By Reuters

Abraaj Capital, a Dubai-based private equity firm, plans to invest 2 billion riyals ($533.3 million) in Saudi Arabia, it said on Monday.

The investment will be in small and medium enterprises, real estate, private equity as well as listed firms, Abraaj said in a statement.

The firm's chief executive said on Sunday that it expects to invest $2 billion in 2011 and 2012, and is eyeing a number of deals this year.

Middle East private equity investments have plunged in the last couple of years, with investors backing out of capital calls, and sellers demanding higher prices. But the industry is slowly showing signs of revival in 2011.

British-based international bank Standard Chartered said this month that its private equity arm expected to complete two transactions in the Middle East in 2011 and does not rule out another $100 million deal.

In December, Dubai-based lender Emirates NBD said it would sell a 49 per cent stake in its subsidiary Network International for 2 billion dirhams ($539 million) to Abraaj.

Abraaj is the Middle East's biggest private equity fund, having raised $7 billion since it started in 2002.