Alpen Capital: The GCC firm that’s funding banks from the UK to Vietnam
CEO Rohit Walia discusses Alpen's rapid geographical expansion
Alpen Capital is an investment banking advisory firm specialising in debt and equity solutions for institutional and corporate clients in the Middle East, Africa, south Asia and beyond. CEO and Executive Chairman Rohit Walia discusses the firm’s rapid geographical growth, and the most important transactions that Alpen has advised on recently – and in particular its trend towards funding financial institutions. In the second half of this interview Rohit talks about Alpen Capital’s first sustainability report, and the impact that Alpen’s work has in emerging markets.
World Finance: Rohit, reintroduce us to Alpen Capital and the services that you offer.
Rohit Walia: So we’re a 22 year old firm, born in the DIFC in Dubai. Grown quite rapidly over the last 20 years.
Two very specific services: we are good at raising money for growth capital. And number two, at any M&A transaction which you may have in mind.
There are a lot of people who are looking to grow their businesses, i.e. acquire a business, either regionally or globally. Or we have clients who are looking to divest businesses.
We’ve got very good connectivity within our reach, and we very clearly understand what it is that you need, and how do we get there. And we also have a very good idea of what would work in which part of the GCC markets, which we can help with.
The GCC markets have become more receptive to setting up industry. The largest GCC market, Saudi Arabia, they’ve actually set up an institution, Dussur, with whom we work very closely. We’re running two transactions with them right now, to help clients set up a manufacturing base in the region.
In Abu Dhabi we have something called ADIO – Abu Dhabi investment Office. We work with them very closely too.
Each has a different offering. So we have to make sure what is it that the clients requires, and how do we match it up with what is available.
World Finance: Now tell me how you’ve grown over the last few years since we last had you in the studio.
Rohit Walia: Our home markets remain the GCC and south Asia, but we’ve grown dramatically geographically.
We were working in what, six to eight countries, now we’re in about 25-28 countries.
A lot of it is in Africa, so there’s a dozen-odd countries there: east, west, and Francophone Africa. And Asia. We’re actually running transactions from Mongolia all the way down to Cambodia. And anything in the middle!
And these are countries where either we have done, or are doing a transaction. So that’s where the growth has come from: 15, 20, 25 percent growth, year on year. But I think each of us has become a lot more efficient, you know, given the last three years of COVID and how we worked. Maybe we figured out a better way of doing things.
World Finance: Talk me through some of your most important recent transactions. You’ve been providing a lot of funding to banks lately?
Rohit Walia: Yeah: the latest one is right here in the UK, where we’ve provided equity to one of the Neo Banks. Just got licensed a couple of years ago, called Monument Bank. We just got the documents signed a month ago – a large client of ours, Dubai Investments, has taken a nine percent equity stake. It’s an important transaction, a very nice transaction.
In other markets we’ve done some very large ticket funding for financial institutions in India. A bank called IndusInd Bank. Huge impact around women empowerment lending.
So exotic markets are where we’ve had some of our recent successes.
World Finance: And the other side of your business, Alpen Asset Advisors: what does this offer?
Rohit Walia: So this side of the business actually looks after your money, whereas Alpen Capital helps you raise money.
Our clients here are mid-sized banks, large family offices, corporates; who have short-term surplus funding which needs to be parked in a fashion which can be accessed quickly and rapidly for their businesses.
World Finance: And what is going to be the strategy for Alpen Capital, moving forward?
Rohit Walia: I think we keep focus on our core: emerging markets. We can grow them, grow them a lot. There’s a humungous potential.
We’ve done very well, very successful means we’ve done one or two transactions in each of these countries. So I think there is huge scope to grow in all of them, and that will be our key focus going forward.