The Abraaj Group said on Thursday it has agreed to sell a big chunk of its fund business to US investment management firm Colony Capital as a Cayman Islands court oversees the restructuring of the embattled private equity firm.
Colony Capital will acquire Abraaj's “Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa, North Africa and Turkey Funds management business and its Limited Partnership interests in the underlying Funds, along with staff in the eight offices being transferred under the terms of the deal,” the private equity firm said in a statement, without disclosing the value of the deal.
“Colony has also agreed to oversee, on an interim basis, other Group Funds that are not being acquired so that the Group and all its stakeholders have a comprehensive global solution in place.”
The sale follows a Cayman Islands court approval for a provisional liquidation of Abraaj Holdings, enabling a court-supervised restructuring and protection of stakeholders’ rights.
The Grand Court of the Cayman Islands appointed Simon Conway of PwC Corporate Finance and Recovery (Cayman) and Michael Jervis and Mohammed Farzadi of PricewaterhouseCoopers, as joint provisional liquidators (JPLs) of Abraaj Holdings this week. The court also approved a request by Abraaj Investment Management Limited for a court-supervised restructuring of Abraaj’s fund management business and appointed David Soden and Stuart Sybersma of Deloitte as JPLs.
[ Abraaj restructuring request approved by Cayman Islands court ]
[ Abraaj seeks Cayman court-supervised restructuring to protect all stakeholders ]
Abraaj has been hoping to sell the funds business, which was separated from the holdings company in February when the group reorganised its structure and appointed Omar Lodhi and Selcuk Yorgancioglu as co-chief executives of AIML.
The Colony Capital deal, which is expected to complete by July 1, has received in principle regulatory approval and is expected to close after receiving approvals from the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands and other parties, Abraaj added.
“We are delighted to have crafted this comprehensive global solution for Abraaj and its stakeholders and sincerely hope that this can enable the process of rebuilding on all sides and also bring an end to the speculation that has swirled around Abraaj over the last months,” said Tom Barrack, executive chairman of Colony Capital.
Abraaj’s fall from grace began this year when media outlets reported that some of the 24 investors in a $1 billion healthcare fund hired investigators to find out what happened to some of the money invested in the vehicle.
The Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund deployed capital from investors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the UK’s CDC Group and Proparco Group of France.
These four out of a total 24 investors requested an audit of the health fund and engaged Ankura Consulting to find out what had happened to some of the invested money.
The Middle East’s biggest private equity firm, which at its peak had nearly $14 billion in assets under management, has denied any wrongdoing.
“The appointment of the joint provisional liquidators and the start of the process of restructuring this business that we operated across diverse markets is a moment of introspection, but also one of satisfaction, knowing that the teams that have been nurtured over the years and the businesses that we were proud to invest in now have a clearly defined future and a good home that will become the custodians of the next phase of this journey,” said Arif Naqvi, founder of Abraaj Group.
Los Angeles-based Colony, which has around $43 billion in assets under management, recently agreed to buy a stake in the property business of French hotel group Accor alongside Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the country's sovereign wealth fund.
Colony is founded by US real estate tycoon and billionaire Thomas Barrack, former chairman of the inaugural committee of US President Donald Trump.