ADIA ends search for private equity chief

Former Zurich private equity head Jim Kester has joined the $600bn Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund as CIO of the fund’s private equity unit.

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world and a keen investor in global private equity, has recruited James Kester as chief investment officer for its private equity division.

Kester will replace the role left vacant by Georges Sudarskis, who left ADIA in September 2008 to set up his own investment management firm. 

Effective immediately, Kester will be responsible for developing the fund’s future private equity investment strategy and to help manage current private equity assets. Working in Abu Dhabi, Kester will report to Hareb Al Darmaki, the division’s executive director.

Prior to the change in career, Kester headed the private equity programme at US-based Zurich Alternative Asset Management, where he sat on the firm’s investment committee. Before his time at Zurich, Kester had a six-year stint as co-head of Allianz Private Equity Partners in Munich.

Darmaki praised the appointment, saying Kester had an impressive track record in managing private equity portfolios for major financial institutions across a broad range of international markets.

One of the world's larger investment funds, ADIA has a target allocation of between two and eight percent for private equity. The allocation represents a commitment of between $12 billion and $48 billion for the asset class based on a $600 billion estimate of total capital.