‘Long-term investors will benefit from Arab Spring’

Speaking at a forum of business leaders, Citadel Capital’s Abdalla ElEbiary said 2013 would be a good vintage year for investors in the Middle East and Africa but that longer holding periods would be necessary. Citadel has a number of infrastructure assets in the region.

Next year will be a good one for investments in those countries that experienced the Arab Spring social revolution “provided you’re willing to consider longer holding periods”, said Citadel Capital managing director Abdalla ElEbiary at the S&P 500 Leaders Forum in Abu Dhabi.

Pointing to Citadel’s investment in Rift Valley Railways, which includes a five-year turnaround programme, ElEbiary said that “the holding periods in our corner of the woods for large-scale investments are necessarily longer than those traditionally preferred by many Western LPs, which creates a great opportunity for long-term investment companies”.

He added: “Considering what we view as compelling regional fundamentals such as population growth, energy deregulation, an unmet demand for energy and governments who are willing to pull back and let the private sector take the lead, then investments made in 2013 will capture outstanding upside potential between investment and exit provided they are well run.”

Citadel has invested $4 billion in Egypt since January 2011, including in ERC, a $3.7 billion petroleum refinery that will help reduce the country’s current diesel imports by half. The firm also has an investment in Nile Logistics, a greenfield river transport and logistics platform.

ElEbiary added that asset prices in the region were “not skyrocketing” at the moment because investors still had a “wait and see” attitude.