Abraaj business said to be Actis purchase target

Major British emerging market investor the latest to join hunt to buy embattled private equity firm's operations, sources say

Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi. The collapse of the firm makes fund raising more challenging. World Economic Forum
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Actis, a leading UK emerging market investor, has bid to buy the bulk of private equity firm Abraaj's business.

Two sources said Actis has joined the hunt for the troubled Dubai-based firm's business.

Other potential buyers are Kuwait's Agility, which has teamed up with New York-based Centerbridge Partners in its bid, York Capital and Abu Dhabi Financial Group.

Abraaj received bids this week to manage the funds and is expected to close a deal with the successful bidder by the end of the year, one source said.

Abraaj filed for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands in June after months of turmoil related to a row with investors over the use of their money in a US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) healthcare fund.

A spokeswoman for Actis declined to comment and the provisional liquidators did not respond.

Colony Capital initially emerged as the frontrunner for the business, but its offer to buy Abraaj's fund management business that runs its Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Turkey funds ran into difficulties after some investors wanted a review of Abraaj's handling of funds, according to a report by Abraaj Holdings' provisional liquidators, PwC.


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Actis, which was founded in 2004, has raised $13bn since inception and employs more than 200 people, including a team of 100 investment professionals. It operates in growth markets across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Abraaj also received interest from other potential buyers to run some of its emerging market business, but that did not include the whole platform, said the sources.

The assets in play do not include Abraaj's $1bn healthcare fund. United States buyout firms TPG and KKR & Co have emerged as leading contenders to run this, sources told Reuters.

Abraaj was established by Arif Naqvi with only $60 million in 2002, who built it into a $13.6bn emerging market champion. He helped to attract money for healthcare investments from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and US pension funds.

But late last year, four investors questioned Abraaj on the use of their money in a healthcare fund. This spiralled into a crisis, triggering management shake-ups, a halt in fund raising, a regulatory probe and provisional liquidation.