In expansion push, General Atlantic appoints former HSBC executive Assaf as Mena chairman

US private equity company is looking to expand its business and boost deal-making activity in the region

Samir Assaf will help General Atlantic to deepen its focus on the Middle East. Photo: General Atlantic
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General Atlantic has named Samir Assaf as chairman of its Mena business as the US private equity company seeks to boost investments in the region.

The New York-based company, which invests in growth companies and manages about $73 billion in assets globally, has created the new role for Mr Assaf, who will help to deepen its strategic focus on the Middle East, General Atlantic said on Monday.

The appointment of Mr Assaf is part of the company’s push to expand its international footprint and he will work with General Atlantic's global team to identify investment opportunities and build relationships in the Mena region.

Mr Assaf, who joined the company in 2021 as a senior adviser, previously served in several leadership roles at HSBC over his 27-year tenure with Europe’s biggest bank, where he continues to be an adviser.

“The Mena region is dynamic, with vibrant entrepreneurial activity in many of our sector areas of focus,” said Bill Ford, chairman and chief executive of General Atlantic.

“Samir has brought value to our teams and our portfolio, and we look forward to drawing upon his extensive experience and network across the Middle East as we seek to deepen our engagement with entrepreneurs and strategic partners.”

General Atlantic has been investing in the Middle East since 2015, ploughing more than $400 million into the region, including its investments in Property Finder, an online property platform in Dubai, and Network International, a Middle East and Africa-focused payments solutions provider.

It is the latest private equity company that has either set up base in the UAE or increased its presence in the Arab world’s second-largest economy to boost deal-making and forge deeper relations with investors in the region.

TPG Capital, Ardian and CVC Capital Partners have all strengthened their roots in the UAE, which offers ease of doing business to global investors and serves as a regional centre.

The Emirates is home to sovereign wealth funds, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Mubadala Investment Company, adding to its lure for global private equity companies.

In January, Ardian opened up its offices at Abu Dhabi Global Market to tap into the large base of local and regional investors and support its growing range of portfolio companies to expand into the region, the French private equity company said at the time.

Through the its office in Abu Dhabi’s financial centre, Ardian is looking to build on its existing relationship with Mubadala.

In December, Mubadala Capital, the asset management subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala, announced a $2.1 billion private equity partnership with Ardian.

Under the agreement, the French company has committed to invest in Mubadala Capital portfolio companies and make a primary commitment to its private equity funds.

General Atlantic — which has 215 portfolio companies and invests across the climate, consumer, financial services, healthcare, life sciences and technology sectors — will continue to look to “supporting innovative growth companies based in entrepreneurial hubs like Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha”, Mr Assaf said.

The aim is to help “our global portfolio companies expand and engage in [the] Mena [region], to partnering with the many dynamic organisations and investors in the region”, he said.

Updated: February 27, 2023, 1:01 PM