About Huda Al Lawati
Huda Al Lawati’s career has spanned 16 years in strategy, investment and portfolio management across emerging market private equity and corporates.
As Chief Investment Officer for Savola Group, a strategic investment holding group comprising one of the largest food & retail businesses in the MENA region (c $5.5Bn market cap), her role encompasses strategy, portfolio management, M&A and investor relations functions.
Joining the company in 2016 as it embarked on a transformation drive in light of significant challenges within the group and the Saudi market, she set out the company’s M&A and portfolio enhancement strategy delineating vision, key consumer trends and capital allocation parameters. She also identified implied acquisition and portfolio reconfiguration strategies
across food and retail sectors and went on to source and execute specific actionable opportunities to achieve goals.
She set up and manages the group’s investor relations function. Specific focus areas at Savola include management of the core (food and retail) portfolio across the MENA region including
Almarai, Herfy, Panda Retail, and Savola Foods Company. She is responsible for driving strategy through the board, approval of subsidiary budgets and plans, and for key strategic projects such as digitization, transformation oversight and bolt-on M&A.
On the group’s capital reallocation front, she originated and led proprietary opportunities that are in line with the group’s defined strategy with SAR 2.2 Bn of M&A pipeline
secured within 6 months of joining. She originated and let the first Accelerated Book Building on the Saudi Stock Exchange with the sale of 2% of the group’s stake in Almarai, working closely with the regulator (CMA), the stock exchange (Tadawul) and the international investment community for a first of its kind transaction, setting a precedent for the market and generating SAR 1,120 million of cash proceeds.
Prior to being Chief Investment Officer at Savola, Huda was a Partner and Chief Investment Officer for MENA at the Abraaj Group as well as a member of the Global Investment Committee. Leading a team of ten investment professionals, she deployed over $1 billion in equity capital through MBOs, LBOs, growth capital and structured equity deals into major regional companies. She held primary responsibility for managing the full deal life cycle including deal sourcing, valuation, due diligence, transaction document negotiations, deal closing, post-acquisition management and exit.
She also structured, negotiated and secured debt capital of over US$1.5 billion for acquisition financing and operations, led C-suite and board hiring, and deployed incentive programs across portfolio.
Investments she led include AlKabeer (a leading frozen food business in the GCC), Kudu (one of Saudi Arabia’s largest QSR chains), Acibadem (a $1 billion deal involving Turkey’s leading listed healthcare provider which was exited through a merger with IHH and listing in Singapore and Mlayasia), Careem (the MENA region’s leading riding share company which became one of the few regional unicorns) and Kuwait Energy (Kuwait based E&P company with assets in Iraq, Egypt and Oman). Her experience has spanned several sectors from both investment and operations gaining including F&B, retail, FMCG, insurance, ecommerce, ride sharing, hospitality, healthcare, education, temporary power, and oil and gas.
Ms Al Lawati holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Economics (Honors) from Brown University. She started her career in 2002 with Schlumberger in Oman.
She serves on the board of directors of Panda Retail Company, Herfy and Savola Foods Company
as well as the board of directors the Young Arab Leaders. She is a co founder of a Dubai based social startup, Bilbareed.