Waha Capital PJSC (WAHA), the investor that owns a stake in plane-leasing company Aercap Holdings NV (AER:US), is seeking healthcare acquisitions in the United Arab Emirates after Dubai announced mandatory health insurance.
“We’re looking for targets across the U.A.E.,” Chief Executive Officer Salem Rashid Al Noaimi said in an interview in Abu Dhabi. “Health care is currently a small piece of the pie for us, but the ambition is that in five years it becomes a solid contributor to our bottom line.”
Companies are seeking to capitalize on rising demand for healthcare services amid an increase in diseases such as diabetes in the Gulf. Obesity-related diseases may cost the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council $68 billion a year by 2022 in lost output and treatment costs, almost double the 2013 figure, Booz & Co. said in a December study. Five of the countries, including the U.A.E., are among the world’s top 10 for diabetes rates, according to consultants Frost & Sullivan.
Dubai, the second-biggest U.A.E. sheikhdom in the United after Abu Dhabi, will require its residents and visitors to have compulsory health insurance from their employers or sponsors, it said in November. Abu Dhabi has it already.
Waha, which acquired Anglo Arabian Healthcare group last year, also expects the U.A.E.’s northern sheikdoms to impose compulsory insurance, Al Noaimi said.
The company, based in Abu Dhabi, said last month that profit surged 43 percent in 2013 to 306.4 million dirhams ($83.4 million), helped by investments such as in Aercap and U.A.E. consumer finance company Dunia Finance.
AerCap in December agreed to buy International Lease Finance Corp. from American International Group Inc. for $5 billion to create an aircraft lessor rivaling General Electric Co.’s Gecas unit for size.
“AerCap is going through a transformational transaction,” Al Noaimi said. Although the deal will cut Waha Capital’s stake to about 14 percent from 26 percent, “obviously EPS is the name of the game,” he said.
Waha advanced 1.1 percent to 2.70 dirhams at 1:07 p.m. in Abu Dhabi. The shares have gained 23 percent this year, valuing the company at 5.1 billion dirhams.
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