‘Think big’ must be a motto widely shared among decision-makers at Arab Bank, one of the oldest financial institutions in the Middle East. The firm is the largest shareholder in AB Capital, a newly formed entity that will pursue investment banking, principal investment and asset management activities in the Middle East.
Led by Abe Saad as chief executive officer, a co-founder and former managing director at SHUAA Partners in Dubai, AB Capital expects to be fully operational in all three areas before the year end.
On the investment banking side, the new group plans to be active in both equity and debt capital markets as well as corporate finance work. As an asset manager, AB Capital will be developing private equity funds of funds and funds of hedge funds to be distributed through Arab Bank's private client network.
In private equity, AB Capital is working on a debut limited partnership that aspires to raise between $250 and $300 million for investment in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. With Arab Bank seeding the project, AB Capital will be marketing the fund to regional investors as well as potential clients in North America.
Saad, who started his career as a buyout professional in the US, said AB Capital was busy recruiting investment professionals for all business lines and was looking to have up to 40 staff by the end of the year.
“We have big plans for AB Capital”, Saad said, who in October 2006 left SHUAA along with a team of senior colleagues including Peter Tarazi and Raed Kanaan. “On the private equity side, the idea is to raise a relatively limited amount of capital and build track record quickly before we come back with a second offering. The deal flow we are currently seeing is definitely very encouraging.”
AB Capital is based in Dubai and has recently obtained a licence from the Dubai Financial Services Authority.
SAIF PARTNERS ROMPS TO $1.1BN
Hong Kong-based growth capital specialist SAIF Partners has raised $1.1 billion (€800 million) for its second fund as an independent general partner. Between 75 and 80 percent of the capital will be invested in China, and the rest in Korea and India. The fund has completed two deals in India, investing $125 million for a 5 percent stake in the National Stock Exchange and $5.5 million for a stake in an integrated telecoms services provider. Several existing investors have committed to the entity, including Princeton University, Siguler Guff, Horsley Bridge Partners, AlpInvest and LGT. New LPs include Harvard University and Credit Suisse. Established in 2005 following a spin-out from SOFTBANK, SAIF has offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Hyderabad and Seoul, and raised $640 million for its previous fund.
RITCHIE ASIA TEAM MOVES TO CREDIT SUISSE
Credit Suisse Private Equity has recruited six people from hedge fund Ritchie Capital in Hong Kong to build an Asian private equity investment platform. Harjit Bhatia, who has worked at Ritchie since 2005, will be head of Credit Suisse Private Equity Asia. The other five appointments from Ritchie are Hemang Raja, Rakesh Mital, Soma Ghosal Dhar, Isiah Zhang and Imelda Tham. Bhatia was previously Asia Pacific chairman and chief executive officer at Ritchie, while Raja was head of India operations at the firm. Raja and Dhar will both be based in Mumbai, while the others will work in Hong Kong.
PROVIDENCE APPOINTS STAR CHIEF EXECUTIVE IN HONG KONG
Providence Equity Partners has hired Michelle Guthrie, former chief executive officer of STAR, as managing director. Guthrie, who will be based in Hong Kong, has been chief executive officer of STAR since 2003. She formerly worked at FOXTEL in Australia and BSkyB in the UK. Providence's first appointment to its Hong Kong office was Andrew Rickards, chief executive officer of Rothschild in Asia and a former co-head of communications, media and entertainment for Goldman Sachs in Asia. Providence Equity Partners, a global media and telecoms specialist, has $12 billion (€9 billion) under management.
WARBURG PINCUS MAKES INDIA HIRE
US private equity firm Warburg Pincus has recruited Leo Puri, the former co-head of consultant McKinsey in India. Puri will initially be based in New York and afterwards move to Mumbai. Warburg Pincus has invested $1.4 billion (€1 billion) in India to date. Its Indian deals include the acquisition of Bharti Airtel, the country's biggest mobile phone company, and the acquisition of a stake in newspaper publisher Writers and Publishers. The firm has offices in Mumbai, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo, and manages about $15 billion.
VINALAND RAISES $400M
VinaLand, a London-listed real estate affiliate of VinaCapital, has raised $407 million (€313 million), double its initial target of $200 million, for investment in Vietnam's property sector. The group was launched by Vietnam-based private equity firm VinaCapital and operates from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. It floated on London's alternative investment market in March 2006. VinaCapital also manages the $790 million Vietnam Opportunity Fund and recently launched a $50 million private venture capital fund to invest in Vietnamese technology companies.
CARLYLE MAKES CHINA INVESTMENT
The Carlyle Group has bought a 49 percent stake in Yangshou Chengde Steel Tube, a Chinese supplier of seamless steel pipes, for $80 million (€59 million). The investment has been made from Carlyle Asian Partners II, the firm's $1.8 billion fund for non-Japanese Asian deals. The firm has also recruited two senior directors – Patrick Siewert, who previously worked at Coca-Cola, and Herman Chang, who formerly worked at Delphi. Carlyle Asia manages about $2.5 billion.
CCMP ASIA, TEACHERS' TEAM UP FOR NZ YELLOW PAGES
CCMP Capital Asia and Teachers' Private Capital, the private investment business of Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, have bought Yellow Pages Group from New Zealand's Telecom Corporation for NZ$2.17 billion (€1.17 billion, $1.58 billion). CCMP, formerly known as JP Morgan Partners Asia, and Teachers' will each take a 50 percent stake in the company, which is the former directories business of New Zealand's Telecom Corporation. The pair beat some old allies to win the auction, including CVC, KKR and a consortium that included Pacific Equity Partners and Bain Capital. Teachers' previously partnered with KKR to buy Yellow Pages in Canada, while CCMP formerly partnered with CVC in the $127 million acquisition of Singapore's Yellow Pages in 2003.
AXIOM RAISES $440M FOR ASIA FUND OF FUNDS
Singapore-based Axiom Asia has raised $440 million (€327 million) in the third and final close of its first Asia-dedicated fund of funds. The final close exceeds the fund's initial target of $350 million. Axiom was founded in April 2006 by Lam Chihtsung, Goh Yew Hong and Edmund Ng Chi Man, former partners at GIC Special Investments. The firm held a first close on the fund in April 2006 on $92 million, and a second close in December on $275 million. Other Asia-based groups currently raising their first Asia-dedicated FoF are Asia Alternatives and Emerald Hill.
BAIN CAPITAL RAISES $1 BN FOR DEBUT ASIA FUND
Bain Capital has raised $1 billion (€700 million) for its first Asia-dedicated private equity fund. Investors in the fund consisted primarily of existing LPs from Bain Capital IX, a $10 billion fund raised in 2006. The Asian pool will target buyouts and growth capital investments primarily in Japan and China. The private equity team in Asia will also have access to Bain Capital IX for bigger deals that require more than $1 billion of equity. Bain Capital IX has invested in two Japanese deals and three Chinese growth capital deals to date. Bain Capital has three offices in Asia – Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai.
WENDEL RECRUITS ASIA PARTNER
Wendel, a French-listed investment firm, has hired Philippe Donnet from AXA to be managing director in Singapore. Donnet has been at AXA since 1985, initially in France, before being appointed chief executive of AXA Italy in 1999. He was made chief executive of AXA Japan in 2003, where he will continue as chairman. Under the leadership of Jean-Bernard Lafonta, Wendel has been reinventing itself as a control investor in recent years and has started to make its first acquisitions outside France. These include the $1 billion (€800 million) investment in US haulage company Deutsch Group in 2006, where it beat Bain Capital and The Carlyle Group in an auction.