By Stanley Carvalho
ABU DHABI, May 17 (Reuters) – Abu Dhabi investment firm Waha Capital plans to invest up to 4 billion dirhams ($1.08 billion) by 2020, the company said on Sunday after posting a 20 percent rise in first-quarter profit.
Waha is looking to invest in sectors with high growth potential such as energy, infrastructure, healthcare and education, chairman Hussain al-Nowais said in a statement.
The company invested 255 million dirhams in the first quarter of 2015: 193 million dirhams in capital markets and the remainder in its healthcare subsidiary, chief executive Salem al-Noaimi told Reuters after the earnings announcement.
“We have more firepower to deploy and we are looking at several opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa region,” he said without being specific.
Waha, which has approval to buy back 10 percent of its shares, has so far bought back 50.2 million shares representing 2.58 percent of its outstanding shares, Noaimi said, adding that the buy-back might continue.
In December, Waha hedged 12 million shares it owned in AerCap Holdings and sold a further 3 million shares in the aircraft leasing firm, providing Waha with $532 million in funding.
“It was attractive financing that was used to repay more expensive debt, and part of it will be used for investing,” Noaimi said.
Currently Waha owns 12.6 percent of AerCap, all of which is hedged with various maturities.
Waha made a net profit of 182.2 million dirhams in the three months ended in March 2015, compared to 152 million dirhams a year earlier, helped by income from its equity-accounted associates and joint ventures. (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Andrew Torchia)