An investment firm led by one of Dubai's top businessmen, Mohamed Alabbar has agreed to buy a controlling stake worth $1.7 billion in Kuwait Food Co (Americana), from Kuwait's Al Kharafi family.
Americana, which owns the Middle East franchises for popular fast food chains KFC and Pizza Hut as well as producing a range of branded consumer foods for markets throughout the region, has a total market value of around $2.52 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The investment firm, Adeptio, has signed an initial agreement with the Al Khair holding company, which is owned by the Kharafis, to buy its 69 per cent stake in Americana, the companies said in statements on Thursday.
Alabbar is founder and chairman of Emaar Properties , Dubai's biggest real estate developer. Adeptio also represents other financial investors from Gulf Arab states, its statement said without naming them.
"We see a bright future for Americana and look forward to working with management to realise the significant growth potential in the business going forward," Alabbar said in the statement.
The deal is conditional on due diligence; Kuwaiti state news agency Kuna said it would also need the approval of Kuwait's capital market regulator.
After the acquisition, Adeptio plans to launch a mandatory offer to buy Americana's remaining shares under Kuwaiti securities rules, it said. Trade in the shares was suspended early on Thursday.
Talks with various potential investors on selling the stake had occurred since early 2014, but agreement was delayed by factors including a plunge in the market price of the company's shares, which is down 41 per cent from its 2014 peak.
Banking sources said expressions of interest had come from parties including Singapore's Temasek Holdings, Saudi food maker Savola Group, and private equity funds KKR and CVC.