KKR COMES KNOCKING

In the next move to further build its scope and geographical footprint, this month New York's kohlberg kravis Roberts (kkR) lured Lebanese banking veteran Makram Azar from the ruins of Lehman Brothers to head up the buyout giant's operations in the Middle East and North Africa.

Azar, who was global head of sovereign wealth funds at the bankrupt US bank as well chairing its media investment banking group for Europe and the Middle East, will be tasked with building a team to source private equity and infrastructure investment deals and scope out co-investment opportunities in the region. He will report into kkR's head of Europe, Johannes Huth.

Throughout the MENA region there have been 24 private equity-backed buyouts this year, with a combined value of $1.2 billion, according to data provided by Dealogic. This represents a slight decline on last year's activity, but according to research carried out by consultancy Deloitte, the region is expected to experience an increase in both the number and size of buyouts, with energy, real estate and infrastructure seen as the largest growth sectors. Until now The Carlyle Group has been the only global buyout firm based in the region, having opened there in 2006.

As well as tapping into the region's deal flow, the firm is intending to partner with the region's sovereign wealth funds, with which Azar has strong connections. His previous experience includes work with the Qatar Investment Authority and Dubai-based fund manager Istithmar World.

Azar was kkR's third significant appointment in September, the firm having already hired chief of Skanska Infrastructure Development, Simon Hipperson, to its London team and corporate veteran, Yoshiharu Fukuhara, as a senior adviser in Japan.

The growth in headcount has accelerated at kkR since its announcement in late July that it plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange by the end of the year and broaden its investment horizons to include infrastructure, real estate, mezzanine debt and public equities.

The firm currently maintains offices in New York, Menlo Park, San Francisco, Houston, London, Paris, Hong kong, Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney.

$200M FIRST CLOSE FOR SAMENA
Samena Capital has held a $200 million first close on its debut special situations fund, which it expects to wrap up by the end of October on $350 million. Founded in February, Samena, short for “the Subcontinent, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa”, said it has identified stakes it intends to buy in Indian and Japanese asset managers. Samena, which will be headquartered in Bahrain but with offices in London, Hong kong, Tokyo and Brunei, is led by Shirish Saraf, co-founder and former managing di rector of Abraaj Capital.

ABRAAJ GROWS ITS TEAM
Dubai-based Middle East investment firm Abraaj Capital has hired Pervez Akhtar, Hisham Ahmed Ashour, Ashish Dave and Matteo Stefanel as executive directors. The firm said that the appointments are line in with its organic growth and its continued expansion across the region. Last month Abraaj, which manages $5 billion and employs 155 profes s ional s , appointed Farrukh Abbas as the chief executive of its newly established Pakistan office. Abbas is to lead an investment team of six in karachi.

ABU DHABI NETS SOCCER CLUB
The Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment has agreed to acquire Manchester City Football Club of the English Premier League. Established in 2005 with capital of AED200 million (€38 million; $54 million), the private investment firm is chaired by Sheikh Saqer bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qassimi. It was initially established to invest in the United Arab Emirates region, but the Abu Dhabi United Group has signed a memorandum of unders tanding to purchase Manchester City from Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is wanted in Thailand in relation to alleged fraud charges. Shinawatra reportedly wants to raise his own private equity fund.

GULF THREE TO SEEK $10BN
The Abu Dhabi Investment House, Bahrain's Ithmaar Bank and Gulf Finance House have reportedly partnered to create three new Middle East-focussed funds. The three Shariah compliant funds – InfraCapital, AgriCapital and the Hospitality Development Fund – will initially raise $2.8 billion from the companies' balance sheets and private investors, according to a report in Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper. However, the funds are authorised to raise up to $10 billion in total. “With the launch of these new companies, we are confident that the region will have access to the resources and expertise necessary to continue its long-term growth and development,” said Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, chairman of Ithmaar Bank.

FRST CLOSE FOR SHUAA
SHUAA Capital Saudi Arabia, a subsidiary of Dubai-based investment bank SHUAA Capital, has raised SAR900 million (€164 million; $240 million ) for SHUAA Saudi Hospitality Fund I and is targeting a final close of SAR2 billion. Omar Al Jaroudi, chief executive officer of SHUAA Capital Saudi Arabia, said in a statement that the fund presents Shariah-compliant investors with an opportunity to diversify away from traditional sectors to hospitality, “a sector that is otherwise not represented in Islamic-oriented portfolios”. He added that this is the first private equity fund to be domiciled in Saudi Arabia.

ACTIS TAKES SLICE OF IPO
Actis, the emerging markets private equity firm, has made an investment in the initial public offering of Tunisian conglomerate Poulina Group Holdings on the Tunis Stock Exchange. The flotation of Poulina – a business with interests ranging from travel agencies to poultry farms – values the company at $745 million, making it the largest company by market capitalisation on the exchange. The size of Actis' investmentwas not disclosed, but it is smaller than the firm's typical commitment of between $50 million and $200 million, according to the company. The investment was made from the Canada Investment Fund for Africa, one of Actis's pan-African private equity funds jointly managed by Canadian fund management company Cordiant.

MILLENNIUM GETS FRIENDI
Mi l lennium Pr ivate Equi ty, a subsidiary of Dubai-based investment bank Millennium Finance Corporation, has acquired an undisclosed stake in FRiENDi mobile, a Dubai-based mobile service provider. This was the first investment from the $1 billion-target Telecom Media Technology (TMT) Fund, which posted a first close in April this year. Post-transaction, Izzet Güney, senior executive officer of Millennium Private Equity and fund manager for its TMT Fund, will join FRiENDi mobile's board of directors.

SWICORP TAKES OFF
The MENA-focused investment firm Swicorp has acquired a strategic minority stake in Jordan Aviation, an aviation leasing company, in a deal reportedly worth more than $150 million. Headquartered in Amman, Jordan Aviation is a private airline providing chartered flights in the Middle East. The investment was made from Intaj Capital, a $250 million fund focused on sectors driven by a growth in consumer demand in the Middle East and North Africa.

DIC SEALS SECOND MENA DEAL
Dubai International Captial's emerging markets division has done its third private equity deal – its second in the Middle East – with the purchase of a 45 percent stake in steel castings maker KEF Holding. Transaction terms were not disclosed, although DIC chief SameerAlAnsari said that to secure the deal, DIC had to “fend off fierce competition from international and regional private equity firms”. KEF supplies castings for valves used in the oil and gas, mining, industrial and chemical industries.

GILAT TERMINATES $475M GORES ACQUISITION
Israeli satellite company Gilat Satellite Networks has terminated an agreement to be acquired for approximately $475 million (€323 million) by a private equity consortium including the Gores Group and publicly-listed Israeli investment company Mivtach Shamir Holdings, citing an “intentional breach of the merger agreement” as the reason. The $11.40 per share transaction was agreed in March and was expected to close in September. The agreement provides for a termination fee of $47 million to be paid to Gilat.