Samia Bouazza, CEO and Managing Director at Multiply-1690609241213
"We are well-positioned in access to good borrowings," said Samia Bouazza, CEO and Managing Director at Multiply. "There is no limit to how we can go about with new investments and acquisitions." Image Credit: LinkedIn/@Samia Bouazza

Dubai: Abu Dhabi’s Multiply Group has a way of dazzling with numbers.

Like the time last year when its third-quarter profit weighed in at the Dh9 billion mark when returns on a series of investments hit their sweetest spots. And when it became a cornerstone investor in the DEWA IPO (with Dh367 million) and at Borouge (Dh183.75 million). They were not the only ones.

The ADX-listed Multiply, part of the IHC group’s high-visibility entities, is continuing that good run into 2023, where at the halfway mark, net profit has totalled Dh400 million. At gross margins that are a substantial 51.6 per cent, while net assets swelled to a tad over Dh42 billion.

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And the value of its public markets’ portfolio? A whopping Dh33.4 billion, with the invested amount being Dh12.3 billion.

The Group isn’t done with the deployments - not by a long stretch.

“We go for companies that we believe can grow because they have the management, the technologies they possess, and the competitive advantages to stand out,” said Samia Bouazza, CEO and Managing Director at Multiply. “Our investments are not dictated by the timing of a company calling for an IPO. Those investments are incidental.

"We are well-positioned in access to good borrowings. There is no limit to how we can go about with new investments and acquisitions."

The cashflow position at the end of June was Dh2 billion, plus access to Dh4 billion and over in financing capacity.

Whatever the case, Multiply has vaulted into the ranks of Abu Dhabi’s systemically important investment holding companies. There’s a presence in energy and utilities as well as in mobility solutions. And interestingly enough, in wellness and media too.

One category that Multiply does stay away from is exposure to startups. “We won’t be getting into that space; this was agreed upon in the very first month of Multiply going public,” said Bouazza. “We will not look at companies that have just started out, and this will not change irrespective of how interesting its business may be. For us to be interested, we want to see those businesses delivering profits. As I said before, they also need to have good management. This way, we can share the upsides those businesses have.

Stock - Multiply Group
Multiply doesn't do investments in pure startups. But one of Abu Dhabi's biggest investment firms doesn't mind onboarding a 'startup mentality'.

“That’s not to say we won’t co-opt anything that startups possess. In fact, I encourage each of our businesses to take on board the startup ‘mentality’. That’s about bringing new ideas, which could create a totally new stream of revenues. But at all points, these need to be done within our ecosystem.”

But, given all that is happening around AI and how these would be reshaping the immediate future, will Multiply be open to AI-linked ventures? “We have no other option than ride this particular wave,” the CEO said.

The ‘plus’ factor

The Group recently came up with ‘Multiply+’ to focus on multiple assets classes - ‘These could be pre-IPOs, allocations where we see short-term value creation, or seek flexibility by investing in companies that we don’t necessarily control,” the CEO said. “With such allocations, we look for exits at the right time rather than stay on for the longer term. These tend to be safe bets.

“Under Multiply+, we already made a few in-and-out moves and made good money in the process. These are by nature more of financial transactions than the operating companies we have under the Multiply Group banner.”

Region on the radar?

Multiply has in the recent past doubled down on investments at home while maintaining a global outlook. Will that investment horizon stretch to possibilities closer to home? In other words, elsewhere in the Gulf and region?

“We basically have a global mandate,” said Bouazza. “We have made bolt-on acquisitions to our media holdings, and these were companies based in New York and San Francisco. There was also a solar power company in Turkey. We will be doing quite a bit globally.”

It’s all in the numbers for Multiply...