By Matthew Brown and Will McSheehy
May 18 (Bloomberg) — Tecom Investments, the asset manager controlled by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al- Maktoum, plans to buy as many as three companies this year as it uses earnings from Gulf real estate to expand overseas.
“We’re considering two to three acquisitions this year” in our target regions of Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Chief Executive Officer Abdullatif al-Mulla said in an interview at the World Economic Forum Middle East meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt today, declining to be more specific.
Tecom and Dubai Investment Group, both units of Dubai Holding LLC, in 2006 beat Vivendi Universal SA for a 35 percent stake in Tunisie Telecom. Through its Emirates International Telecommunications Ltd. venture Tecom also owns a controlling stake in Malta’s GO Plc, with whom it bought 21 percent of the Greek Internet company Forthnet SA in January.
Gulf Arab phone companies including Saudi Telecom Co. and Kuwait-based Zain are expanding outside their region as their own markets mature and as earnings growth gives them cash to outbid rivals for assets. Emirates Telecommunications Corp., or Etisalat, on May 12 said it may bid for South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd. to add to the 16 countries it already has units in.
Tecom runs tax-free business parks in Dubai, specializing in media, technology, energy, environmental services and healthcare. It owns shares in Du, the U.A.E.’s second-largest phone company, and is building business parks for technology companies in Malta and India.