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© Bloomberg A customer wears a protective face mask after shopping at a Lulu hypermarket, operated by Lulu Group International, during the coronavirus lockdown in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, April 23, 2020. An investment firm backed by a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family agreed to buy a stake worth just over $1 billion in LuLu Group International, which runs one of the Middle East’s largest hypermarket chains, according to people familiar with the matter.

Saudi Arabia’s $360 billion sovereign wealth fund is exploring a potential investment in LuLu Group International, which runs one of the Middle East’s largest hypermarket chains, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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The Public Investment Fund is considering buying a minority stake in the retailer, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Representatives for LuLu and PIF declined to comment.

The talks were first reported by Reuters on Wednesday.

Lulu is an Abu Dhabi-based supermarket group founded by Indian entrepreneur Yusuff Ali, who set up the business during a years-long oil boom in the Gulf region. The company also operates shopping malls and other businesses such as hospitality and real estate. It has an annual turnover of about $7.4 billion and employs more than 55,000 people.

The PIF, once a holding company for government stakes in domestic businesses, had its mandate broadened in 2015 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to include international investments to support economic diversification. The fund is looking into “any opportunity” arising from the economic wreckage wrought by the coronavirus, its governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan said in April.

Abu Dhabi Sheikh Is Said to Invest $1 Billion in Top Grocer LuLu

Any new investment from the PIF will come months after a company led by Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan acquired an almost 20% holding in LuLu Group International. At just over $1 billion, that deal ranks among one of the UAE’s largest consumer deals in recent years.

Sheikh Tahnoon is the chairman of Royal Group, which has holdings in businesses such as media, trade, financing and real estate among others, according to its website. He’s also the chairman of Abu Dhabi Development Holding Co., also known as ADQ.

ADQ has invested in LuLu Group businesses except in it’s Indian & Qatari operations, the person said on Wednesday. The funds raised through the stake sale are being used to expand in Jordan, Iraq & Morocco, the person added.

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