UPDATE: Abraaj MENA CIO departs

Huda Al Lawati has been appointed CIO of Saudi food and retail group Savola.

Huda Al Lawati, partner and chief investment officer for the Middle East and North Africa at emerging markets specialist The Abraaj Group, has left the firm, Private Equity International has learned.

Al Lawati, who was promoted to partner and CIO in April 2015, left the firm in March, a spokesperson confirmed.

It is understood Al Lawati has been appointed CIO of Savola Group, a listed food and retail group operating in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey with a market capitalisation of SR18.6 billion (€4.5 billion; $5 billion). She is due to take up the new role this month.

Savola has a broad portfolio of activities focused on the food and retail sector, and has been increasingly operating as an investment company, focusing on direct investments in these two sectors. Al Lawati's appointment is another step toward further cementing that strategy, it is understood. 

According to her LinkedIn profile, Al Lawati also recently launched a company called Bilbareed, a bilingual e-platform for the design and delivery of electronic invitations and greetings cards.

Al Lawati, who joined Abraaj in 2004, was responsible for originating, executing and monitoring the group’s investments across the MENA region, helping to build a pipeline of new investments, as reported by PEI.

It is understood that Ahmed Badreldin, partner and head of the firm’s investments in the Middle East and North Africa, has taken over Al Lawati’s responsibilities.

Abraaj closed its second North Africa-focused fund in July 2015 on $375 million, exceeding its $250 million target and significantly larger than its 2008-vintage predecessor, which closed on €115 million.

Investments in the fund, which was 70 percent deployed as of February this year, include Moroccan oncology clinics Centre de Traitement Al Kindy and Clinique Spécialisée Menara, Egyptian education group Tiba Group, and Tunisia’s Société d’Articles Hygiéniques, which produces disposable household and personal care products for babies, women and adults.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Al Lawati had left The Abraaj Group in order to launch Bilbareed.