Mohamed Alabbar is best known as the founder of the huge real estate company in Dubai that built the tallest skyscraper in the world, but investing in fast food prompted him to join the list of the richest businessmen in the region.
Americana Restaurants, operator of KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants in the Middle East, is valued at about $6.24 billion — much higher than the $3.5 billion it was estimated to be at when it went private in 2017 — after the company was pulled from the dual listing. Investors flocked to the initial public offering with orders worth $105 billion. The stock rose 13% in Abu Dhabi on Monday before closing 7.6% higher.
Alabbar is set to receive $900 million from Americana’s IPO and his remaining stake is now valued at $1.98 billion, based on the IPO price. This makes Mohammed Alabbar one of the richest residents of the United Arab Emirates with a fortune of $1.3 billion, according to a Bloomberg report seen by Al Arabiya Net based on the Billionaires Index, after accounting for previous transactions including his initial purchase of Americana. There is a possibility that Alabbar was once a billionaire but with assets that are difficult to assess.
“It’s not about the money for me. I don’t even like wearing an expensive watch,” Alabbar told Bloomberg in an interview, declining to comment on his net worth.
The billionaire has yet to decide what to do with his windfall yet. He said, “I talk to a group of people, but I’m not going to stray from my traditional business. I’m going to do business that I know.”
Alabbar’s fortunes are closely linked to Dubai – the city where he was born and turned into a major trading hub. His entry into the 10-figure club comes as the economy is booming again, drawing everyone from bankers to hedge funds as well as cryptocurrency enthusiasts to town.
Dubai has become a haven for those fleeing conflict in Ukraine or coronavirus lockdowns elsewhere. To take advantage of this influx, the authorities have introduced a range of measures aimed at making the city more attractive to the traditionally transiting expatriate workforce.
The improved outlook has sent real estate prices to record levels and boosted the tourism industry, with millions of visitors flocking to the emirate’s beaches and cavernous malls. New projects are selling quickly and developers, including Dubai-listed developer Emaar Properties, have soared.
Of particular importance to Alabbar, the Middle East has also emerged as a hub for IPOs, helped by higher oil prices and investor inflows at the start of the year. More than $20 billion has been raised so far from stock sales, putting the region on course for its second-best year ever — surpassed only in 2019, which saw Aramco’s $29.4 billion initial public offering, according to data it compiled. Bloomberg agency, and Al Arabiya Net reviewed it.
Americana joined the wave of subscriptions, as Alabbar and the Saudi Public Investment Fund sold a 30% stake. Business rebounded after the COVID-19 shutdown, generating $2 billion in revenue for the year ending December 2021 – up 8.5% from 2019 – and a profit margin of 9.9%.
In the prospectus, the company outlined a strategy to double its revenue and increase profitability in the medium term, citing the increasing disposable income in its market and the growing addressable population – more than 270 million, 78% under the age of 45.
Alabbar, 66, is a fan of horse racing and started his real estate empire in 1997. He founded Emaar, which arguably launched the real estate revolution in Dubai and is making its mark on the city almost everywhere.
Along with the world’s tallest tower – the 830-meter Burj Khalifa, where apartments sell for up to $4 million – Emaar has developed vast tracts of residential areas and erected towers emblazoned with the company’s name.