Kuwaiti company takes 23.1% stake in WH Ireland, amid talk of Mideast expansion

Kuwaiti European Holding Group, a Kuwaiti company founded in 2008 by a group of investors that includes members of the wealthy Al Humaidi family, has acquired a 23.1% stake in London-based WH Ireland Group, the companies announced today, confirming market reports.

Both organisations described the acquisition as a strategic investment on the part of the Kuwaiti company that would enable them both to build on their complimentary strengths.

The news sent shares of London Stock Exchange-listed WH Ireland soaring, amid speculation that the Kuwaiti company could be aiming to buy all of the London-based brokerage eventually.

The purchase price of the stake was £8.45m, according to a statement issued by the Kuwaiti company.

As part of the transaction, KEH Group chief executive Humphrey Percy is to become a KEH Group representative on the WH Ireland board, subject to regulatory approval, the statement added.

‘Strategic partnership’

KEH Group said it saw synergies between WH Ireland’s business model and those of its own financial services businesses, Armila Capital and Al-Fouz Investment Co. “The strategic partnership between WH Ireland and KEH will bring additional services and products to the group and its clients that are not currently available, and as well as enhancing those already being offered,” it said.

KEH Group’s Percy added that his company saw the deal “an important component of KEH’s strategy” that would enable it to “build out of a financial services division that can develop a true bridge between investors in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Middle East, and financial markets in Europe, particularly in London”.

“Having a significant stake in a prominent London securities house such as WH Ireland is an exciting next step of this strategy, and I look forward to working with the WH Ireland team to build this partnership,” he added.

WH Ireland chief executive Richard Killingbeck, pictured, added that the KEH Group had “an exciting plan for growth within its existing financial services companies in the Gulf states and the UK”.

“WH Ireland expects to be able to help support this growth from both of its divisions, and to benefit from the financial resources within KEH Group to develop and accelerate growth plans at the company,” Killingbeck said, in a statement. 

WH Ireland was founded in Manchester in 1872, and provides private wealth management, wealth planning and corporate broking services. Its private wealth arm offers discretionary and advisory services to individuals, corporates, trusts and funds.

In 2013 it acquired the private wealth management business of London-based Seymour Pierce, one of the City’s oldest stockbrokers, which at that point was being broken up after going into administration.

In addition to its London headquarters, it maintains several other UK offices, including Bristol, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, and Manchester, and one in the Isle of Man. KEH Group has a London outpost as well, in Berkeley Square, Mayfair.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helen Burggraf
Helen Burggraf is the editor of International Investment. A US-trained journalist, she has worked in Rome, New York City and London, covering everything from the fashion and retailing industries to the global drinking water and water-treatment sector, private equity, and most recently, the international cross-border financial services/advice industry.

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