Side Letter: Most adventurous LPs, Abraaj exec pleads guilty, OpEx awards voting

Who are the most adventurous LPs in PE, the ones working tirelessly to find and back emerging managers and niche strategies? Presenting the eight LPs you need to know in today's brief, for our valued subscribers only.

Just happened

The investors you need to meet

We’ve spent the last few months speaking with dozens of market sources to find out the LPs willing to look at investment opportunities most won’t give a second glance. These are not risk-takers for the sake of it, they’re investors who stand out to us – and the market – for their thoughtfulness, market knowledge and willingness to consider outside-the-box opportunities. If you have a great idea for a new-age private equity fund with innovative terms and an ultra-niche strategy, try one of these eight investors.

First up: the “forward-thinking” woman in the engine room at a Dutch pension giant and the brains behind a nuclear power company’s retirement system.

Abraaj exec pleads guilty

Former Abraaj senior exec Mustafa Abdel-Wadood pleaded guilty to racketeering and fraud charges at a hearing in New York on Friday. Reading from a prepared statement, Abdel-Wadood said Abraaj was facing severe liquidity issues as early as 2014. He admitted to lying to investors about Abraaj’s financial health and overstating its track record. Abdel-Wadood will return to court just after Christmas; founder Arif Naqvi’s London extradition trial is set for February.

Cast your ballot

Now open: the Operational Excellence Awards 2019 for GPs with recent exits worth shouting about. In their eighth year, and with last year’s winners including everything from a premium pet food manufacturer to a struggling Spanish data centre operator, the awards are the perfect way for firms to demonstrate their value-creation credentials and highlight the good work done over the last 12 months.

You can enter online here or via PDF here. Entries close Thursday 25 July.


Single-mindedBlackstone has become the latest blue-chip firm to tap the secondaries market. The firm is working with advisor Park Hill to lift one asset – Phoenix Tower International – out of its 2012-vintage Tac Opps fund into a continuation vehicle backed by secondaries capital. With more than $600 million in NAV at stake, the deal could prove to be one of the largest transactions of its kind. Not everyone’s convinced so-called “single-asset restructurings” are a good idea, mind.

LP meetings. It’s quiet on the LP meetings front this week as it’s Fourth of July (Happy Independence Day, y’all!) If you’re looking to get ahead on meetings for the summer, try out our new Investor Calendar widget on our homepage, which links to a 12-month view of board meetings, investor committee meetings and annual report release dates. To add your institution’s meetings to the calendar, please email

Inside tip

Have news or views you’d like to share with us, on this or something else? We’d love to hear from you.

Dig deeper

Kentucky’s portfolio. Kentucky Retirement Systems has agreed to commit $75 million to MiddleGround Capital Fund I, a debut North America-focused buyout fund. Here’s a breakdown of the $18 billion US pension’s investment portfolio. For more information on KRS, as well as more than 6,700 other institutions, check out the PEI database.

He said it

“Don’t challenge him in a debate; he is on a different planet in terms of brainpower.”

One placement agent’s take on Drew Ierardi, managing director of private markets for Exelon’s corporate pension fund, who is one of our eight investors you need to meet.

We would love your feedback to help us make this newsletter more useful;click here to give us your opinion.

Today’s letter was prepared by Isobel MarkhamAdam Le and James Linacre.

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