Istithmar World CEO Resigns

(Reuters) – State-owned Dubai World said on Wednesday the chief executive of its Istithmar World had resigned and had been replaced by its chief investment officer, as the group focuses on managing its investments rather than making acquisitions.

Istithmar is one of the flagship companies of state-owned Dubai World, which has been hit hard by the global financial crisis, and is in the process of restructuring some $22 billion in debt.

David Jackson, who had spearheaded Istithmar’s aggressive overseas expansion strategy including the purchase of luxury U.S. retailer Barney’s New York and a stake in Standard Chartered (STAN.L: Quote, Profile, Research), has been replaced by Andy Watson.

“Today, Istithmar World is focused on the steady-state management of existing assets to maximise value rather than on private equity investment,” said Aidan Birkett, chief restructuring officer at Dubai World, in an e-mailed statement.

Struggling Dubai World said on Nov. 30 its restructuring plans did not include asset sales at Istithmar World, among the group’s crown jewels.

Watson took over as chief investment officer at Istithmar World in September in a management reshuffle involving Dubai World’s troubled property unit Nakheel, developer of three palm shaped islands. He was previously at UK-based banking group Barclays (BARC.L: Quote, Profile, Research).

At the time, speculation increased that Jackson’s role was under review, although Istithmar said his job was safe.

Istithmar hired an advisory firm in August to help it mull options to shore up Barneys’ financial position amid speculation it is freezing investments as part of a restructuring that may result in the sale of the fund or its assets. 

(Reporting by Rachna Uppal; Editing by John Irish and David Holmes)