First Eastern eyes $250m Dubai fund

The Hong Kong-based private equity firm's focus on Dubai continues with the launch of a fund to 'support sustainable businesses connected to Dubai as a trading, logistical and financial centre'.

First Eastern Investment Group aims to raise a $250 million fund for investments in Dubai, anchoring the fund with a $50 million investment, sister news site PEI Asia has confirmed.

The firm is in talks with investors based in Abu Dhabi over a $50 million commitment and it will look to raise the remainder of the capital from Chinese and global investors, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The fund will make investments in business services companies in sectors including oil and shipping as well as in Gulf hotels that cater to the increasing number of Chinese visitors to the region.

“We want to support sustainable businesses connected to Dubai as a trading, logistical and financial centre,” Victor Chu, the chairman of First Eastern, told the Financial Times. He added that First Eastern will use its contacts to help companies based in Dubai expand in China and across Asia.

Dubai: fund focus

In August 2009, First Eastern became the first foreign private equity firm alongside The Blackstone Group to set up an RMB-denominated private equity fund in Shanghai. The firm said at the time it intended to manage RMB-denominated private equity funds worth RMB6 billion ($877 million; €622 million) over the following 12 months. The funds it raises will invest in regional development and local environment protection projects, the firm said.

In April 2008, First Eastern and Dubai International Capital (DIC) launched a fund targeting commitments of $1 billion to invest in Chinese companies looking to expand operations in the United Arab Emirates. That fund is managed by a joint venture between DIC’s Emerging Markets division and First Eastern. China Dubai Capital was expected to see a final close in October 2008 but revised its target in November that year due to the shifting financial landscape.

“The world has changed” since the fund was launched in April, a spokesman for DIC told PEO in November, adding that the firm would eventually hit its target. The spokesman declined to comment on the fundraising timeline or provide details about  commitments garnered.