Young minds, old bodies offer private equity opportunities

November 4, 2008

Healthcare and education offer a new frontier for Middle
East private equity firms as they take advantage of dramatic
demographic changes in the region.

At least that’s the view held by Dubai-based private equity
player Abraaj Capital.

“With 60 percent of the population, give or take, that’s
younger than 30 years old, you’ve got the need for massive
investment in infrastructure in order to be able to create
employment and cater to this growing population,” Abraaj
executive director Fred Sicre said at the Reuters Middle East
Investment Summit.

In a report this week, Ernst & Young said the Middle East
and North Africa region needs more than $100 billion of joint
investment from the public and private sector over the next five
years to keep up with population growth.

“As well as having the youngest populations on the planet,
we’ve got an increasing number of people going into the 65-plus
age range which is where health becomes a really big issue,”
said Tom Speechley, also an Abraaj executive director.

“You’ve got chronic under-investment historically in the region so governments have opened up the sector to private investment.”

In the past year, the firm, which operates in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, has invested in a Turkish private
hospital group in Turkey, an Egyptian medical laboratory as well as
retail pharmacies and Speechley sees more to come.

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