Abraaj chairman resigns amid ongoing restructuring

Sean Cleary stands down following appointment of joint provisional liquidators this month

Arif M. Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive, Abraaj Group, United Arab Emirates; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa 2017. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Jakob Polacsek *** Local Caption ***  bz22ma-p2-naqvi.jpg
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The chairman of Abraaj, Sean Cleary, has resigned, as the Dubai-based private equity firm undergoes a court-supervised restructuring in the Cayman Islands after allegations it misused investors’ funds.

"Following the appointment of the joint provisional liquidators, Sean determined that his role as an independent non-executive director would serve no further legal or fiduciary purpose in the interests of creditors or other stakeholders," Abraaj said in an emailed statement to The National on Thursday.

“Sean is fully supportive of the appointment of the joint provisional liquidators and the effective restructuring process.”

Abraaj said on June 19 that its request for a provisional liquidation was approved by a Cayman Islands court, together with a separate request for a court-supervised restructuring of the group’s funds management business, Abraaj Investment Management (AIML).

Several days later, Abraaj said AIML’s co-chief executives Omar Lodhi and Selcuk Yorgancioglu will no longer serve as directors of the board of AIML – although the move does not change their co-chief executive titles.


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The latest resignation came in the week the company agreed to sell the bulk of its funds business to US-based investment management firm Colony Capital.

An Abraaj spokeswoman said on Thursday that Mr Lodhi and Mr Yorgancioglu “remain co-chief executives and are working closely with our joint provisional liquidators on the restructuring plan and sale of the fund management business to Colony Capital”.

Abraaj, which at its peak had more than $13.6 billion (Dh49.96bn) of assets under management, has been left reeling over investor claims this year that it misused funds in a $1bn health-care investment vehicle, the Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund.

Four of 24 investors in the fund – the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the UK’s CDC Group and Proparco Group of France – hired investigators this year to find out what had happened to some of their money. Abraaj denies any wrongdoing.

Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi was summoned to a court in Sharjah on Thursday to face criminal allegations of issuing a cheque to a lender without sufficient funds. He did not attend the hearing and the judge deferred the verdict until July 5.