SHUAA CEO leaves to set up own firm

Iyad Duwaji has ended a 20-year career with SHUAA to set up an independent private equity platform. DIC's Sameer Al Ansari has reportedly been considered as a replacement.

Iyad Duwaji, who has been chief executive officer of Dubai-based SHUAA Capital since 1995 and is also the chairman of SHUAA Partners, the firm’s private equity arm, has resigned.

Duwaji, who joined SHUAA Capital in 1988, will however, continue to be a member of the firm’s board of directors and will continue in his role as chief executive until a replacement is found, SHUAA said.

Sameer Al Ansari, the executive chairman and chief executive officer of Dubai International Capital, the international investment arm of Dubai Holding, has been considered as a replacement for Duwaji, according to various media reports.

SHUAA is well-placed for its next phase of growth and he is now looking forward to returning to the buy-side and setting up and independent private equity platform, Duwaji said in a statement. He called his decision to leave “a personal one”.

Majid Al Ghurair, chairman of SHUAA, thanked Duwaji for his contribution as the “central figure and mastermind” behind SHUAA's growth over the years.

Duwaji’s resignation comes less than two weeks after SHUAA and Dubai Banking Group (DBG) settled a dispute relating to the conversion of SHUAA bonds into stock. In June, SHUAA and DBG agreed to new terms for the conversion of SHUAA bonds held by DBG, bringing an end to a stand-off that started in October 2008, and giving DBG a 48.4 per cent stake of SHUAA Capital’s share capital.

SHUAA’s share price slumped more than 85 percent last year, from AED6.50 ($1.77; €1.24) per share at the end of 2007, to AED1 per share at the end of 2008 and the investment bank faced potential dissolution. However, SHUAA shareholders voted in favour of the continuation of the Dubai-based bank’s operations in April. 

SHUAA Partners closed its first fund in September 2005 on $200 million and its second vehicle, Frontier Opportunities Fund I, closed on $100 million in October 2007. The firm is currently in the market for SHUAA Hospitality Fund I, which saw a first close on $165 million in June 2008. 

In August 2008, the Saudi arm of SHUAA Capital held a first close on $240 million for SHUAA Saudi Hospitality Fund I, which is targeting $534 million for its final close.

Dubai International Capital could not be reached by press time. SHUAA declined to comment on the possibility of Al Ansari's appointment.