UAE's Waha Capital eyes Latin America tourism boost after $50m investment

CEO Amr Al Menhali says confident that investment will help put Waha on a firm footing post COVID-19

Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Waha Capital on Saturday announced an investment of AED184 million ($50 million) in, a NYSE-listed company in the online travel sector.

The move is part of the company’s investment programme initiated in May comprising a total of up to $150 million in US-listed companies, a statement carried by state news agency read. As part of the investment, Waha Capital will also appoint a representative to the company’s board of directors, it added.

Amr Al Menhali, CEO of Waha Capital, said: “As was evident in our recently announced first half financial results, we are pursuing a vigorous turnaround strategy to position Waha Capital for renewed growth in the coming years. We are confident that investments such as the one we are making in Despegar will put us on a firm footing to deliver significantly higher future returns for our shareholders as we successfully navigate past the impact of COVID-19 and look to the future.

“We are excited about our investment in, a leading technology company focused on the travel sector, with a best-in-class platform, established brand leadership, and a high quality management team.”

Despegar is the leading online travel company in Latin America, and is well-positioned to benefit from an accelerating shift to online consumer purchases driven both by technology advancement as well as the accelerated adoption of e-commerce due to the impact of COVID-19, the statement said.

Latin American online travel bookings are expected to accelerate in the coming years, once the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have subsided.

Factors driving the growth in online travel bookings include the increase of internet penetration, further adoption of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices and a growing middle class with greater access to banking services and credit products, together enabling a larger segment of the population to transact online or on mobile devices.

The company offers deals with over 270 airlines and over 690,000 hotels, as well as some 1,260 car rental agencies and approximately 200 destination services suppliers.

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