Alabbar eyes venture capital move to kick start $1bn tech fund

Dubai-based business tycoon Mohamed Alabbar is weighing buying in to venture capital firms in the Middle East to help kick start his $1 billion technology fund, according to people familiar with the matter.

Representatives for Alabbar held talks with several regional companies, including Middle East Venture Partners and BECO Capital, about either buying them entirely, joining as a co-investor or making a significant investment in the firms, the people said, asking not to be identified as talks are private. Final agreements haven’t been reached with any party and discussions may not result in a deal, they said.

Alabbar, who is also chairman of the Middle East’s largest listed developer - Emaar Properties - is increasingly focusing on technology investments and set up the technology investment fund with other regional investors.

Separately, he raised $1 billion from investors including Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to create e-commerce firm Noon. Emaar’s mall unit missed out to Amazon.com Inc. last month when it bid for online retailer Souq.com for $800 million.

Alabbar last year also announced plans to launch a social app similar to WhatsApp. He bought a stake in regional logistics firm Aramex PJSC in July, as well as 4 percent of Yoox Net-a-Porter for 100 million euros ($109 million) last April. In June, Alabbar led an investor group to buy a majority stake in Kuwait Food Co., which operates KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants in the Middle East and North Africa.

A representative for Alabbar didn’t respond to requests to comment, and MEVP declined to comment. A representative for BECO said it hasn’t held discussions with Alabbar about a takeover of the company, and declined to comment on further talks.

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