Apollo Global Management Inc (APO.N), opens new tab, is in talks to buy a minority position in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia Starbucks, opens new tab franchise operated by Kuwait’s AlShaya Group, according to three people.

According to two sources, the privately owned shop, known as “Project Emerald,” is aiming to sell a minority ownership of roughly 30% in the company, as previously reported by Reuters.

According to one source and a third, Saudi Arabia’s national wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which was earlier shortlisted to buy the share, is still involved in the talks.

Starbucks operates around 2,000 stores in 13 countries, including the Middle East and North Africa, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan. Before exiting Russia, Reuters estimated its value to be between $4 billion and $5 billion in 2022.

Starbucks stated in January that the Israel-Hamas conflict has harmed its business in the region, as it failed to meet market expectations for first-quarter results.

It stated the turmoil had a substantial impact on sales in the Middle East and the United States, as some customers organised demonstrations and boycott campaigns demanding that the company take a stand on the subject. However, it stated that it remains committed to its worldwide expansion plans.

Following the boycotts, Starbucks stated in October that it was a non-political organisation and denied supporting the Israeli government or army.

A purchase would broaden the investor base of the Alshaya family’s privately held business, which has been in operation since 1999. Some of the Middle East’s largest private corporations are increasingly attempting to attract outside investors via IPOs or strategic share sales.

AlShaya withdrew from Russia and closed 130 outlets in 2022 to comply with Starbucks’ decision to leave the sanctioned country following its war with Ukraine.

Alshaya, founded in 1890, is one of the region’s largest retail operators, with rights to operate shops for popular Western brands such as The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Pottery Barn.

McDonald‘s and Starbucks, two of the largest restaurant chains in the US, reported lower sales at the end of last year due to the Israel-Hamas war.

McDonald’s shares plummeted about 4% on Monday after the company disclosed that a sales slowdown in the Middle East contributed to its fourth-quarter revenue miss. Starbucks’ stock has decreased almost 2% since Tuesday, when the company revealed that the battle had a negative impact on its U.S. sales in the final three months of the year.