Due Diligence in Iraq

To find today’s trendiest emerging market, head to Beijing. And then bear hard west, for a few thousand miles.

What you’ll find is the so-called MENA region, which stands for Middle East and North Africa. Billions of dollars are being committed, with some firms like Carlyle setting up dedicated funds and most I-banks putting dedicated MENA staffers on the ground.

ButMENA feverhassteered clear of Iraq — both under Saddam Hussein’s totalitarian reign and under the chaotic democracy that followed his removal. Save for infecting one patient.

That patient is Scimitar Global Ventures, which targets VC and private equity opportunities in Romania, Morocco and (yes) Iraq. Ok, they aren’t buying up grocery stores in central Baghdad, but nonetheless are willing to venture into the calmer parts of Northern Iraq.

I was unsuccessful yesterday in speaking with either of Scimitar’s partners — former JPMorgan Private Bank pros Scott Oger and Zachery Venegas — but did chat briefly with an outside spokesmanBarry Schwartzthis morning. He said that the firm is undergoing some sort of reorganization, which will keep its principals quiet until December or January. “They will definitely resurface,” he said.

My first thought was that this was code for “SEC marketing restriction,” but that’s highly unlikely as all of Scimitar’s money comes from European and MENA investors. So let’s just call it kinda strange. Nonetheless, Schwartz did confirm that Scimitar has made multiple investments in the Kurdish sections of Northern Iraq. So we’ll circle back in a few months, as it’s always interesting to see what’s happening on the emerging market fringe.