A powerhouse emerges

As part of a wider programme to expand its emerging markets private equity capability, BMB Group has acquired a majoritys take in Washington DC-based private equity firm EMP Global.

Brunei-headquartered alternative asset management firm BMB will absorb EMP's non-US operations, which comprise offices in Brunei, Hong Kong and Bahrain. These will be renamed BMB Emerging Markets and will launch a series of private equity funds focused on energy, infrastructure and financial services. EMP's US operations will continue to run independently.

EMP partner Moeen Qureshi, the former chief operating officer of the World Bank who spent three months as prime minister of Pakistan, becomes vice chairman of BMB Group, while Don Roth, another EMP partner and former head of Merrill Lynch Europe and treasurer of the World Bank, becomes head of principal investments.

In 2005, EMP Global's European arm span out to become London-based Central and Eastern Europe specialist Mid-Europa Partners.

The world is undergoing an enormous shift from the Western to Eastern hemispheres in terms of both capital and talent. When we come out of the tunnel [of the financial crisis] the world will look a very different place

Chris Walker

BMB is looking to acquire additional private equity management firms as well as carve out individual teams from large buyout groups in its target markets of East Asia, South East Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

The firm is hoping to benefit from well-priced talent as large US and European firms shutter their non-core operations, as The Carlyle Group did with its Central and Eastern European office in November last year.

“This is an ideal time to have capital,” global head of institutional sales and marketing for BMB, Chris Walker, told PEI.

Walker, a former managing director of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, recently joined BMB to oversee the implementation of Sharia-compliant pension plans.

Walker is confident that the current financial crisis, while it has had an adverse effect on emerging markets, will dramatically change the global economic landscape. “The world is undergoing an enormous shift from the Western to Eastern hemispheres in terms of both capital and talent. When we come out of the tunnel [of the financial crisis] the world will look a very different place,” he said.

Following BMB's investment, EMP subsequently hired Aureos Capital's China head Chung Min Pang and Samir Soota, founder of speciality financial services firm Principia Management Group. Pang will lead EMP's Greater China activities, while Soota will take responsibility for the firm's South and South East Asian operations.

The combined entity has assets under management in excess of $12 billion.