Peter Smith, CEO of GE Partners, advises businesses on how to raise money and potentially IPO on various stock exchanges in the region. Rebecca Rees for The National
Peter Smith, CEO of GE Partners, advises businesses on how to raise money and potentially IPO on various stock exchanges in the region. Rebecca Rees for The National

Self-made British stockbroker who now helps UAE SMEs



Peter Smith knows more than most about stock markets. Nowadays, he’s chief executive of the Dubai-based Global Equity Partners, which advises small to medium enterprises (SMEs) on how to raise money and, potentially, launch an IPO on exchanges in the region.

“There’s a plethora of misguided young companies in the SME space who don’t know where to turn,” says Mr Smith. “We bring them under our wing and help them operationally here in the Middle East, raising capital here or abroad and helping them achieve public listings. It usually takes two to four years.”

He certainly has the experience to make this happen.

Back in 1986, in the decade when “yuppies” (young upwardly mobile professionals) were making a mark for themselves in the world’s big cities, the 18-year-old Mr Smith became one of the youngest qualified stockbrokers in the UK. He was the quintessential yuppie, having risen from humble beginnings on the edge of Toxteth in Liverpool with a father who worked as a labourer.

“The neighbourhood I grew up in was dreadful. Most people were unemployed,” says Mr Smith, 46, who adds that this drove him to better himself.

His determination led him to train to become a stockbroker, and by 1987 he was trading on the London stock market floor.

“Going from a very poor situation in Liverpool to this Thatcherite stock exchange was incredible. We’d work 12 hours a day, but you didn’t feel like you were, because there was continually that buzz in the air.”

Mr Smith became an options trader, generating US$200 million of trades a month. When he started out, the open outcry method – shouting and the use of hand signals to transfer information about buy and sell orders – was still in use in the UK.

“It was slow, because you were relying on human ability to pass a message from A to B, and often from B to C,” he recalls.

In 1993, at the age of 25, Mr Smith set up the international financial services business Belgravia.

It made its debut on the Nasdaq Junior Boards with a market capitalisation of $40m, and by 2006 had 23 worldwide offices and $2.2 billion under management. But the same year, at the age of 38, Mr Smith decided to go out on a high, and resigned.

“When people used to ask me ‘where do you live?’, I’d say ‘seat 1A’ because I spent an awful lot of time on planes. It’s a tough gig to do for a long time. I’d employed 325 people and had built the business to a point where I needed to replace myself. As it happens we were bought out by another institution, which left me in a nice position.”

Mr Smith retired to Spain along with his wife and two children, now 17 and 19.

"But I was still looking for something to get my teeth into. The turning point came in 2008 when I was approached to help float a company called M1. I helped them raise money and go into the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. I decided there was a gap in the market, to help SMEs without charging a pile of money. Instead we would take equity, which means you're sitting alongside them. That's our USP [unique selling proposition].

“Because I’d been a broker I knew how to take people public, and after having 23 offices worldwide I had a wide reach of connections. When people want to explore whatever market, I know people to help them.”

Mr Smith then launched Global Equity Partners, with operations in Dubai, the United States and London, and moved to Dubai in 2010.

“When property prices were plummeting and everyone was leaving town, I thought that was a good time to get some roots in the Dubai business community, because people wouldn’t be so busy. It proved to be a good decision.”

GE Partners is now poised to launch a special opportunities fund run out of Luxembourg, geared towards the UAE SMEs.

“We’ll raise capital from Europe and the Middle East into the fund and build a board who can deploy that capital into the SME space here. There are almost 8,000 SMEs in Dubai,” says Mr Smith. “We see this as a massive opportunity.

Next year Mr Smith plans to open offices in Sri Lanka and Thailand, and expand his London office. He currently operates with a team of five in Dubai, and five in the UK.

“Most of my days now are spent working with companies on their financing, their capital raising strategy, or their potential IPO,” adds Mr Smith.

“There’s no better feeling than when you have a success story. It’s not an arduous task coming to work these days.”

business@thenational.ae

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The 12 breakaway clubs

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Baftas 2020 winners

BEST FILM

  • 1917 - Pippa Harris, Callum McDougall, Sam Mendes, Jayne-Ann Tenggren
  • THE IRISHMAN - Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff
  • JOKER - Bradley Cooper, Todd Phillips, Emma Tillinger Koskoff
  • ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD - David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, Quentin Tarantino
  • PARASITE - Bong Joon-ho, Kwak Sin-ae

DIRECTOR

  • 1917 - Sam Mendes
  • THE IRISHMAN - Martin Scorsese
  • JOKER - Todd Phillips
  • ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD - Quentin Tarantino
  • PARASITE - Bong Joon-ho

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM

  • 1917 - Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Callum McDougall, Jayne-Ann Tenggren, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
  • BAIT - Mark Jenkin, Kate Byers, Linn Waite
  • FOR SAMA - Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts
  • ROCKETMAN - Dexter Fletcher, Adam Bohling, David Furnish, David Reid, Matthew Vaughn, Lee Hall
  • SORRY WE MISSED YOU  - Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien, Paul Laverty
  • THE TWO POPES - Fernando Meirelles, Jonathan Eirich, Dan Lin, Tracey Seaward, Anthony McCarten

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

  • THE FAREWELL - Lulu Wang, Daniele Melia
  • FOR SAMA - Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts
  • PAIN AND GLORY - Pedro Almodóvar, Agustín Almodóvar
  • PARASITE - Bong Joon-ho
  • PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE - Céline Sciamma, Bénédicte Couvreur

LEADING ACTRESS

  • JESSIE BUCKLEY - Wild Rose
  • SCARLETT JOHANSSON - Marriage Story
  • SAOIRSE RONAN - Little Women
  • CHARLIZE THERON - Bombshell
  • RENÉE ZELLWEGER - Judy

LEADING ACTOR

  • LEONARDO DICAPRIO - Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood
  • ADAM DRIVER - Marriage Story
  • TARON EGERTON - Rocketman
  • JOAQUIN PHOENIX - Joker
  • JONATHAN PRYCE - The Two Popes

SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • TOM HANKS - A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • ANTHONY HOPKINS - The Two Popes
  • AL PACINO - The Irishman
  • JOE PESCI - The Irishman
  • BRAD PITT - Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • LAURA DERN - Marriage Story
  • SCARLETT JOHANSSON - Jojo Rabbit
  • FLORENCE PUGH - Little Women
  • MARGOT ROBBIE - Bombshell
  • MARGOT ROBBIE - Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • THE IRISHMAN - Steven Zaillian
  • JOJO RABBIT - Taika Waititi
  • JOKER - Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
  • LITTLE WOMEN - Greta Gerwig
  • THE TWO POPES - Anthony McCarten

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • BOOKSMART - Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Katie Silberman
  • KNIVES OUT - Rian Johnson
  • MARRIAGE STORY - Noah Baumbach
  • ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD - Quentin Tarantino
  • PARASITE - Han Jin Won, Bong Joon ho

DOCUMENTARY

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  • APOLLO 11 - Todd Douglas Miller
  • DIEGO MARADONA - Asif Kapadia
  • FOR SAMA - Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts
  • THE GREAT HACK - Karim Amer, Jehane Noujaime

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER

  • BAIT - Mark Jenkin (Writer/Director), Kate Byers, Linn Waite (Producers)
  • FOR SAMA - Waad al-Kateab (Director/Producer), Edward Watts (Director)
  • MAIDEN - Alex Holmes (Director)
  • ONLY YOU - Harry Wootliff (Writer/Director)
  • RETABLO - Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio (Writer/Director)

ANIMATED FILM

  • FROZEN 2 - Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho
  • KLAUS - Sergio Pablos, Jinko Gotoh
  • A SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE: FARMAGEDDON - Will Becher, Richard Phelan, Paul Kewley
  • TOY STORY 4 - Josh Cooley, Mark Nielsen

CASTING

  • JOKER - Shayna Markowitz
  • MARRIAGE STORY - Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler
  • ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD - Victoria Thomas
  • THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD - Sarah Crowe
  • THE TWO POPES - Nina Gold

EE RISING STAR AWARD (voted for by the public)

  • AWKWAFINA
  • JACK LOWDEN
  • KAITLYN DEVER
  • KELVIN HARRISON JR.
  • MICHEAL WARD

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • 1917 - Roger Deakins
  • THE IRISHMAN - Rodrigo Prieto
  • JOKER - Lawrence Sher
  • LE MANS ’66 - Phedon Papamichael
  • THE LIGHTHOUSE - Jarin Blaschke

EDITING

  • THE IRISHMAN - Thelma Schoonmaker
  • JOJO RABBIT - Tom Eagles
  • JOKER - Jeff Groth
  • LE MANS ’66 - Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker
  • ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD - Fred Raskin

COSTUME DESIGN

  • THE IRISHMAN - Christopher Peterson, Sandy Powell
  • JOJO RABBIT - Mayes C. Rubeo
  • JUDY - Jany Temime
  • LITTLE WOMEN - Jacqueline Durran
  • ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD - Arianne Phillips

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • 1917 - Dennis Gassner, Lee Sandales
  • THE IRISHMAN - Bob Shaw, Regina Graves
  • JOJO RABBIT - Ra Vincent, Nora Sopková
  • JOKER - Mark Friedberg, Kris Moran
  • ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD - Barbara Ling, Nancy Haigh

SOUND

  • 1917 - Scott Millan, Oliver Tarney, Rachael Tate, Mark Taylor, Stuart Wilson
  • JOKER - Tod Maitland, Alan Robert Murray, Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic
  • LE MANS ’66 - David Giammarco, Paul Massey, Steven A. Morrow, Donald Sylvester
  • ROCKETMAN - Matthew Collinge, John Hayes, Mike Prestwood Smith, Danny Sheehan
  • STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - David Acord, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, Stuart Wilson, Matthew Wood

ORIGINAL SCORE

  • 1917 - Thomas Newman
  • JOJO RABBIT - Michael Giacchino
  • JOKER - Hildur Guđnadóttir
  • LITTLE WOMEN - Alexandre Desplat
  • STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - John Williams

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS

  • 1917 - Greg Butler, Guillaume Rocheron, Dominic Tuohy
  • AVENGERS: ENDGAME - Dan Deleeuw, Dan Sudick
  • THE IRISHMAN - Leandro Estebecorena, Stephane Grabli, Pablo Helman
  • THE LION KING - Andrew R. Jones, Robert Legato, Elliot Newman, Adam Valdez
  • STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER - Roger Guyett, Paul Kavanagh, Neal Scanlan, Dominic Tuohy

MAKE UP & HAIR

  • 1917 - Naomi Donne
  • BOMBSHELL - Vivian Baker, Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan
  • JOKER - Kay Georgiou, Nicki Ledermann
  • JUDY - Jeremy Woodhead
  • ROCKETMAN - Lizzie Yianni Georgiou

BRITISH SHORT FILM

  • AZAAR - Myriam Raja, Nathanael Baring
  • GOLDFISH - Hector Dockrill, Harri Kamalanathan, Benedict Turnbull, Laura Dockrill
  • KAMALI - Sasha Rainbow, Rosalind Croad
  • LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD IN A WARZONE (IF YOU’RE A GIRL) - Carol Dysinger, Elena Andreicheva
  • THE TRAP - Lena Headey, Anthony Fitzgerald

BRITISH SHORT ANIMATION

  • GRANDAD WAS A ROMANTIC - Maryam Mohajer
  • IN HER BOOTS - Kathrin Steinbacher
  • THE MAGIC BOAT  - Naaman Azh
RESULTS

6.30pm Handicap (TB) US$65,000 (Dirt) 1,400m

Winner Golden Goal, Pat Dobbs (jockey), Doug Watson (trainer)

7.05pm Dubai Racing Club Classic Listed Handicap (TB) $88,000 (Turf) 2,410m

Winner: Walton Street, William Buick, Charlie Appleby.

7.40pm Dubai Stakes Group 3 (TB) $130,000 (D) 1,200m

Winner Switzerland, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar

8.15pm Singspiel Stakes Group 3 (TB) $163,000 (T) 1,800m

Winner Lord Giltters, Adrie de Vries, David O’Meara

8.50pm Al Maktoum Challenge Round-1 (TB) $228,000 (D) 1,600m

Winner Military Law, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi.

9.25pm Al Fahidi Fort Group 2 (TB) $163,000 (T) 1,400m

Winner Land Of Legends, Frankie Dettori, Saeed bin Suroor

10pm Dubai Dash Listed Handicap (TB) $88,000 (T) 1,000m

Winner Equilateral, Frankie Dettori, Charles Hills.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Director: James Wan

Starring: Jason Mamoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II 

Rating: 2/5

THE DETAILS

Deadpool 2

Dir: David Leitch

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Justin Dennison, Zazie Beetz

Four stars

THE APPRENTICE

Director: Ali Abbasi

Starring: Sebastian Stan, Maria Bakalova, Jeremy Strong

Rating: 3/5