Fresh Profile: Foundation Holdings targets FOs, HNWs for GCC, India-focused investments

Why this is important: families in the Middle East are seeking more direct investments.

Abhishek Sharma, founder and CEO of Foundation Holdings, the Dubai investment firm focused on the GCC region and India, sees the 2008 financial crisis as a learning experience for family offices in the region.

“It created a severe dent in the trust across the entire system,” Sharma wrote to Buyouts in response to questions. “The blind pool, a mixed fund that accepts capital from investors without specifying what they are investing in … suddenly lost its appeal.”

After that, family offices in Sharma’s region took the same step as many of their Europe and North America-based counterparts.

“The recession made family offices realize that they need to take care of their own investments,” Sharma wrote. “Today, several of these offices are increasingly seeking out well-screened deals.”

Sharma started Foundation Holdings in 2016 to “source, identify, analyze and bring well-screened deals to other family offices in the region.” Previously, he worked at Bank of America, Lehman Brothers in New York, Sun Capital Partners in London and Ithmar Capital in Dubai.

Foundation Holdings focuses on the healthcare, education and consumer spaces in its chosen regions with direct investments in “well-managed companies that have the potential for transformational expansion,” usually covering 50 percent and above of the value of its acquisitions from its own funds, Sharma told Buyouts.

Sharma says these regions have enormous potential, especially in healthcare.

“These parts of the world are witnessing a strong upward trajectory in healthcare spending,” Sharma wrote, citing aging populations, growing affluence and greater expectations that the best treatments be immediately available. “These fundamental drivers of growth make healthcare a resilient and compelling sector for investment.”

Among Foundation’s major investments are One Living, a joint venture with Bloom Holding, focused on “workforce solutions”; Right Health, a UAE-based healthcare provider; and an equity and operational partnership with Ryan International Group of Institutions to create a network of schools in India and the UAE.

“Over the next five years, we seek to invest 2 billion Emirati dirham ($544.5 million) to enhance the operational value of our companies,” Sharma said. “Our objective is to prepare them for an initial public offering or find them a home on the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index.”

Sharma said his strategy was geared toward long-term investments.

“We are interested in companies that are here for the long haul,” he wrote. “When we invest in a company, we are not overly concerned about whether the market will eventually recognize its worth, but rather about how sustainable and differentiated that company is.”

Action Item: Learn more about Foundation Holdings here.