Bahraini Islamic investment bank Arcapita, which owns Northern Ireland utility Viridian Group Plc said on Tuesday it was in talks to buy as many as three Asian utilities for up to $3 billion each.
The Islamic investment bank is also looking at investing in the US residential real estate sector after prices were hit "very, very hard" by the mortgage crisis, Chief Executive Atif Abdulmalik told the Reuters Islamic Finance Summit.
Arcapita, which bought a Texas power plant last month for $695 million, has bid for Asian utility firms involved in electricity, water, or wind farm operations, Abdulmalik said.
"We have two to three deals in the pipeline, with a deal size of about $2-3 billion each," he said. "This field is becoming attractive for a lot of people."
Abdulmalik declined to be more specific about where the utility companies were based or who the sellers were, but said it could close a deal as early as this quarter.
Arcapita, which has more than $6 billion in funds under management, could also buy into real estate firms in the United States, where property prices have tumbled after the credit crisis triggered by mortgage defaults.
"The credit crisis has good parts and bad parts. The good thing is that valuations are becoming more reasonable now," Abdulmalik said.
"We do see certain opportunities in the residential sector, especially in the coastal areas and in the south. We are looking at a lot of ideas in that field... We normally buy controlling interests," he said.
Arcapita bought Viridian in October 2006 for $3.20 billion. Asked if he planned to sell Arcapita's stake, Abdulmalik said: "We don't want to look like we are asset-strippers. We are very happy with the management and the performance of the company." Arcapita usually exits investments after three and a half years, he said. (Reuters)
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