Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), is in early discussions to buy a stake in supermarket chain Lulu Group International, Reuters has reported quoting two sources familiar with the matter.
It is in talks with Indian-born businessman Yusuff Ali, who founded Abu Dhabi-based Lulu, one of the largest chains in the Gulf region, the sources said. Discussions between PIF and Lulu began four to six weeks ago, one of the sources said.
It was not immediately clear how big a stake PIF is seeking to buy as discussions are at an early stage, or whether the talks would lead to a final transaction.
Lulu operates shopping centres, hypermarkets and other businesses with an annual turnover of $7.4 billion, according to its website. It has operations in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states as well as in Egypt, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
PIF, which manages $360 billion in assets, declined to comment. Lulu’s Director of Marketing & Communications, V Nandakumar, said in an emailed response that “as a policy, we never comment on market speculations and media rumours.”
Abu Dhabi state-owned holding company ADQ invested $1 billion in Lulu earlier this year, two sources familiar with the talks said. ADQ did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
PIF invested $500 million in e-commerce venture Noon, which shortly afterwards began operations in Saudi Arabia. It also invested indirectly in the IPO of Saudi mall operator Arabian Centres.
PIF was also approached by Reliance to buy a stake in the retail arm of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.