MerchantBridge founder dies in plane crash

MerchantBridge founder Basil Al-Rahim was among seven dead in a plane crash in Iraq on Friday. A senior partner at the firm was also killed.

The board members and staff of MerchantBridge, an Iraq-focused private equity firm, met over the weekend in Beirut to mourn the deaths of two senior executives, the firm said in a statement on Saturday.

The firm’s founder and chief executive, Basil Al-Rahim, was among seven people killed in a plane crash Friday evening in Iraq. Also on board the flight was Abdullah Lahoud, a senior partner at the international private equity firm.

The two men were en route to Beirut when the plane went down Friday evening at Sulaimaniyah International Airport in northern Iraq. They were joined by two JP Morgan executives and three flight crew members, according to a statement from Iraqi mobile phone company AsiaCell, of which Al-Rahim was a board member.

Basil Al-Rahim

“The partners and employees of MerchantBridge intend to continue the valued work of our colleagues Basil and Abdallah. We ask for a period of calm reflection whilst we decide how we best continue to advise our investors and partners”, said MerchantBridge chairman, Abdulaziz Al Abdulkader.

Al-Rahim set up MerchantBridge in 2002 alongside the late Colin Craig, a British investment banker who died in a motor accident in Morocco in 2005. Also involved with the firm’s creation was Lahoud, who prior to joining MerchantBridge worked with Al-Rahim at the Middle East and North Africa-focused Safron Partners.

“Basil was an Iraqi investor that deeply loved his people and his country. He was an example of intelligence, loyalty and devotion and his loss will be truly felt across Iraq,” Asiacell said in a statement.

In May, the firm launched the $50 million Iraq Mesopotamia Fund, which will be run in partnership with Iraqi commercial bank Mansour, to invest in the country’s stock exchange, according to its website.