NBD Sana holds $170m first close

The private equity unit of Middle East bank Emirates NBD is targeting $500m for its MENASA-focused fund.

NBD Sana Capital, a division of Middle Eastern bank Emirates NBD, has held a $170 million first close on its buyout fund. The firm intends to raise $250 million in 2009 and eventually, $500 million, according to Suresh Kumar, group director at Emirates NBD.

Focused on the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and South Asia, the fund will target sectors such as telecommunications, media and technology, energy and resources, healthcare and life sciences, and consumer and retail.

Currently, the firm is looking at opportunities in Turkey and India, said Kumar, citing the decline in valuations as “no better time” for a private equity fund to invest.

Since the beginning of the year, stock indexes in the GCC region have plummeted due to the global credit crunch. While investors may find opportune buys amidst low valuations, it has also made exits difficult.

NBD Sana Capital was established by NBD Investment Bank, which is a unit of Emirates NBD, the Middle East’s biggest bank by assets. Emirates NBD had total assets of AED 286 billion ($78 billion) as of June 2008. It has a presence in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UK and Jersey as well as offices in India, Iran and Singapore.