DUBAI/ABU DHABI, March 26 (Reuters) – Private equity firm Abraaj Group is considering selling part of its investment management business as it seeks to stem the fallout from a dispute with investors in one of its funds, three sources familiar with the matter said.
Dubai-based Abraaj is in early stage talks with several possible buyers, the sources said, with one source saying Abu Dhabi Financial Group was among them and another source saying Abraaj had received interest from international financial firms.
The talks are focused on Abraaj’s investment management business, a core part of its operations, two of the sources said.
The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Abu Dhabi-state-owned investment vehicle Mubadala Development and Abu Dhabi Financial Group had held talks with Abraaj about a possible sale of the firm’s private equity business.
Abraaj, Abu Dhabi Financial Group and Mubadala declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
Abraaj, founded in 2002 by Arif Naqvi, has shaken up its management, suspended new investments and undertaken a review of its corporate structure following a dispute with four of its investors – including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group – over the use of their money in a $1 billion healthcare fund.
A sale of part of the business could be helpful in diversifying the company’s shareholder base and improving governance standards, one of the sources said.
The four investors had separately hired forensic accountants Ankura Consulting to investigate how money was used in the Abraaj Healthcare Fund, a source close to one of the firms told Reuters last month.
Abraaj has strongly denied reports that it misused the money. Still, the dispute involving one of the largest emerging markets-focused investors has rocked the Middle East’s burgeoning private equity scene.