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Saudi’s PIF denies plans to buy stake in UAE’s Utico

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), its top sovereign wealth fund, on Thursday denied that it was buying a stake in United Arab Emirates utility Utico.

“An official at the fund said that the news about entering into a binding agreement with Utico is baseless and unfounded.” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

On Wednesday, Utico Chief Executive Richard Menezes told Reuters that the PIF had entered into a binding agreement with his company to buy a “significant minority stake”.

On Thursday, Menezes told Reuters that the PIF was investing in Utico through the IDB Infrastructure Fund, whose anchor investors include the PIF as well as institutions such as the Islamic Development Bank.

Utico, the only privately-owned utility in the UAE has a current capacity of 31 million gallons per day (mgpd) of desalinated water from four plants in the northern emirate of Ras al Khaimah.

The firm is building a new plant in Ras Al Khaimah with capacity of 24 mgpd in a joint venture with Spain’s Groupo Cobra with an investment outlay of $195.8 million. Two other existing plants are being upgraded to add a total of 10 mgpd capacity.