Former NBK chief to lead ADIC programme

Samir Assaad Samaan, formerly NBK Capital’s head of private equity, will lead the Abu Dhabi-backed firm’s push into the buyout market.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Company has hired Samir Assaad as head of private equity. He replaces Robert Wages, who ended a two-year stint with the firm in January to “pursue other interests”.

Assaad joins from Kuwait-based NBK Capital, where he was also head of private equity. A source close to NBK Capital said the firm was not planning to replace Assaad and had rebranded its Merchant Banking division, which included its private equity activities, as “Alternative Investments”. Amjad Ahmad remains head of the renamed division. 

Serkan Kizil, who stepped in as interim head of private equity at ADIC following Wages’ sudden departure, will remain in a senior position within the private equity team.

At ADIC, Assaad will “lead a charge for buyouts in the Middle East and North Africa at a time when the  global economic crisis is starving promising companies of capital” the firm said in a statement.

ADIC chief executive Nazem Fawwaz Al Kudsi said buyout opportunities were beginning to emerge in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt. He added that banks were still prepared to lend to firms in the MENA region on deals of up to $250 million.

“The family-run firms that dominate the region are hungry for capital and expertise, to help them make their operations more efficient, and to expand their businesses across the region,” he said.

ADIC’s charge forward into the buyout space coincides with efforts to build up its third party fund management business and move away from its original model with the Abu Dhabi government as sole financial sponsor.

Earlier this month, ADIC appointed former Volvo executive Anders Ljungqvist as its first ever chief investment officer. Ljungqvist’s remit is to look after ADIC’s proprietary investments, which will now sit under separate management to its expanding third party fund management business, although there will be some co-investment.

ADIC is owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council.