Bahrain ven­ture in­vestor takes Chi­nese fund stake

The National - News - - BUSINESS - MICHAEL FAHY

A Bahrain-based in­vestor in ven­ture cap­i­tal funds says its lat­est in­vest­ment will lead to a Chi­nese ven­ture cap­i­tal com­pany set­ting up a new base in the re­gion.

Al Waha Fund of Funds in­vested an undis­closed amount into a $250 mil­lion (Dh918.1m) fund man­aged by Bei­jing-based MSA Cap­i­tal, which is its first in­vest­ment into a Chi­nese in­vest­ment ve­hi­cle. Fol­low­ing the deal, MSA Cap­i­tal plans to use Bahrain as a hub for its re­gional ex­pan­sion.

“Both China and Bahrain of­fer a sub­stan­tial pool of tech tal­ent, start-up cap­i­tal and digitally-minded con­sumers, so the scope for fur­ther build­ing this re­la­tion­ship is sub­stan­tial,” said Areije Al Shakar, fund di­rec­tor of Al Waha Fund of Funds, which in­vests in other ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vest­ment ve­hi­cles.

Al Waha Fund of Funds is a $100m fund set up by Bahrain’s sov­er­eign fund Mum­ta­lakat last year. It has al­ready made in­vest­ments into Beco Cap­i­tal’s sec­ond fund as well as funds run by Sil­i­con Vel­ley-based 500 Startups, Mid­dle East Ven­ture Part­ners and Europe’s Finch Cap­i­tal.

MSA Cap­i­tal claims to be the most ac­tive Chi­nese fund in the Gulf, hav­ing made 10 in­vest­ments in the re­gion over the past year. It has also helped Mid­dle East­ern com­pa­nies pivot their busi­ness mod­els to Chi­nese prac­tices, and is plan­ning to or­gan­ise ex­changes be­tween cor­po­rates, in­vestor and stu­dents be­tween Bahrain and China.

“We see Bahrain as a hy­per-ef­fi­cient, user-friendly gate­way to the Gulf, where we can col­lab­o­rate with reg­u­la­tors, en­trepreneur­s, and strate­gic cor­po­rate part­ners to pilot new busi­ness mod­els and serve as a hub for re­gional ex­pan­sion,” said Ben Har­burg, man­ag­ing part­ner of MSA Cap­i­tal.

“We be­lieve the Gulf is at an in­flec­tion point due to an in­flux of sea­soned tal­ent, cap­i­tal, and tech­nol­ogy adop­tion. Chi­nese pi­o­neered mo­bile-fo­cused busi­ness mod­els, both for en­ter­prise and con­sumers, are best po­si­tioned to pro­vide a roadmap for en­trepreneur­s in the re­gion,” Mr Har­burg added.

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