Private Equity Firms in Dubai / Middle East

boombust's picture
Rank: Chimp | 3

Hi Monkeys,

Long time lurker here. Decided to create an account because I am eager to learn more about the large private equity firm opportunities and recruiting in the Middle East, in particular Dubai. Have seen limited information about the topic.

I know some shops like KKR, Carlyle, and Blackstone have offices there. How large are they? How does the experience compare to London / New York? How is compensation?

Also interested to know about the private equity recruiting cycle and practices there. Do they poach second year IB analysts from banks in the region? Do they take more experienced hires? Would they look to hire someone that has been working outside of the region / not Middle Eastern?

Would appreciate any insight!

Comments (41)

Aug 10, 2012

Gotta mention Abraaj here.

To answer, though, no, I don't think it's 100% necessary to already be in the Middle East. Unless things have changed.

Aug 11, 2012

.

Aug 11, 2012

Is it like in North America, where you work for two years in IB, then recruit into PE there? Do you have to be working at a GS/MS/JPM to get recruited in one of the top shops?

Aug 10, 2012

Some (as mentioned (+Abraaj)) are pretty big outfits. Not NYC/LDN size, but a big chunk of employees. Comp is same as in LDN/NYC, but there is no tax....

Downside being the ridiculous living costs etc...

Aug 11, 2012

Don't firms in Dubai (at least the global ones) cover or provide some subsidy for living costs?

Also, have any of you worked there or do you know anyone that does? What is the general perception of such a position (in terms of weight on the resume)? I.e. is working at KKR Dubai seen as (nearly) prestigious as KKR NYC?

Aug 11, 2012

Thanks prospie and Churchill for the helpful answers. Interested to know the following as well:

t_banker:

What is the general perception of such a position (in terms of weight on the resume)? I.e. is working at KKR Dubai seen as (nearly) prestigious as KKR NYC?

Additionally, do you have any advice for recruiting for these opportunities, other than general applications? Are headhunters effective in this region? Or is it based on professional / family connections?

Aug 11, 2012

I do PE in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh). Looking to move to Dubai/abu Dhabi in the next few years. Started working around 6 months ago after a 9 months banking/rotational program. Abraaj is pretty big in the region.

Aug 11, 2012

Abraaj

Aug 23, 2012

Abraaj is the gold standard; their average deal ticket size on one deal is roughly the size of the average PE fund size here. They're the equivalent of KKR/Blackstone/Apollo put together, there's no one else with near as much money to put to work, and the deals they do are pretty interesting. Senior guys are hardasses but they've done some amazing deals and exits. Gulf Capital is very good too.

As far as SWFs go, only ADIA really remains and that's more of an Asset Management strategy. Mubadala is pretty active and have money to put to work. DIC, Istithmar etc. aren't investing anymore.

Blackstone isn't really a PE operation here so much as a fundraising one. Carlyle is fairly active, more so running Turkey and KSA deals out of the UAE, but some high-level staff turnover there over the last year or so. KKR has yet to do a deal.

Other smaller good funds include NBK Capital, Ithmar Capital, Amwal AlKhaleej (although they're essentially KSA), Eastgate etc.

A lot of smaller funds that I'm not sure will be able to raise a second/third fund easily at all.

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Aug 23, 2012

interested in this as well...would also like to know what is the best way to land a PE gig in UAE or KSA?
i have lived in in the mid east for 18 yrs and eventually see my self living there over the U.S.
any help?

Aug 24, 2012

I'm a little surprised at the seeming reverence people have for Abraaj. There are a (very very) few solid people there but the bulk is comprised of tier 2-3 people who made it over pre 2007 when no one wanted to work there. They've ridden the wave of a an unsophisticated region being introduced to scale PE for the first time. Don't kid yourself; the majority of people there especially at the Partner level wouldn't have made it through the front doors of even a place like BoA. The senior Partners are a different story.

And yes, they have don a few good deals...but how many have they exited in the last 3-4 years? 1. How many investments in the last 3-4 years? 1-2?

Aug 25, 2012
londonmontreal:

I'm a little surprised at the seeming reverence people have for Abraaj. There are a (very very) few solid people there but the bulk is comprised of tier 2-3 people who made it over pre 2007 when no one wanted to work there. They've ridden the wave of a an unsophisticated region being introduced to scale PE for the first time. Don't kid yourself; the majority of people there especially at the Partner level wouldn't have made it through the front doors of even a place like BoA. The senior Partners are a different story.

And yes, they have don a few good deals...but how many have they exited in the last 3-4 years? 1. How many investments in the last 3-4 years? 1-2?

Exits in the last 3-4 years: EFG, Bank Audi, Acibadem/IHH just last month (big exit), GEMS, Egyptian Fertilizers (huge exit), Maktoob etc. Still have stakes in stuff like Spinneys, the Entertainer, Network International. Not to mention their old exits (Aramex etc.). Really interesting deals all round, not to mention the acquisition of Aureos making them truly an emerging markets player. No other PE fund has been near as active in the buyout space.

There's mediocre people there like everywhere else, but the fund returns sort of speak for themselves. Who else do you see making exits at all in the GCC? IPOs aren't even an option for an exit any more.

Sep 9, 2012
Genesis:
londonmontreal:

I'm a little surprised at the seeming reverence people have for Abraaj. There are a (very very) few solid people there but the bulk is comprised of tier 2-3 people who made it over pre 2007 when no one wanted to work there. They've ridden the wave of a an unsophisticated region being introduced to scale PE for the first time. Don't kid yourself; the majority of people there especially at the Partner level wouldn't have made it through the front doors of even a place like BoA. The senior Partners are a different story.

And yes, they have don a few good deals...but how many have they exited in the last 3-4 years? 1. How many investments in the last 3-4 years? 1-2?

Exits in the last 3-4 years: EFG, Bank Audi, Acibadem/IHH just last month (big exit), GEMS, Egyptian Fertilizers (huge exit), Maktoob etc. Still have stakes in stuff like Spinneys, the Entertainer, Network International. Not to mention their old exits (Aramex etc.). Really interesting deals all round, not to mention the acquisition of Aureos making them truly an emerging markets player. No other PE fund has been near as active in the buyout space.

There's mediocre people there like everywhere else, but the fund returns sort of speak for themselves. Who else do you see making exits at all in the GCC? IPOs aren't even an option for an exit any more.

Your right. However, we invested in one of their Buyout Funds that closed in 06 i believe, and so far its not doing so good.

Nov 29, 2019

This aged well

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Sep 9, 2012

Abraaj Capital

Sep 9, 2012

does anyone know how recruiting works for these firms? I'm focused on LatAm, but curious to learn more about PE in Dubai

Sep 9, 2012

I hate to be so blunt, but you guys are way behind the curve. Dubai already had its wave of hiring foreign talent with no regional experience. They offered amazing packages and then they crashed.

Istithmar is a subsidiary of Dubai World. Ever heard of that?
Dubai International Capital is a subsidiary of Dubai Holding. Seen the yields on the parent co's debt?
DIC Holding does not exist.

By all means, consider Dubai as a possible place to work, but your friends aren't giving you good advice if they're suggesting it as an "exotic location" with a vibrant PE scene for newcomers.

Sep 9, 2012

Exotic? Far from...terrible

Sep 9, 2012

You dont want to be there, first go visit for a week in the summer.

Sep 9, 2012

Thanks, Abraaj sounds like the best investment firm based there. Does anyone know if and how they recruit?

Having skimmed through the recent press coverage on Dubai it sounds like the wave is definitely over... apparently Istithmar and Dubai International Capital Group have lost most of their foreign talents. A headhunter here told me she had placed a professional at DIC but that they have never paid bonuses, so packages there are not that amazing.

I thought about Singapore and Hong Kong as well, but sounds like you need to know the region and speak the language.

Does anyone in PE work in some exotic place?

Sep 9, 2012

I've seen abraaj at some of the big schools. Local contacts will help immensely as well.
The latter tends to be the dealmaker.

Sep 9, 2012

Proceed at your own peril... Don't say I didn't warn you.

Sep 9, 2012

Top firms are Abraaj, Gulf Capital, Mubadala, Carlyle. Abraaj is probably the most prominent but is known to have a brutal work culture (although the pay is astronomical some years).

Sep 9, 2012

horrible place...its a rathole full of class-less idiots, who 50 years ago were riding camels and feeding themselves with their own snot, and now behave like theyre worth something. On top of that, the place is dead now, and will continue to be dead...current valuations are ridiculous.

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Sep 9, 2012

You cant really negotiate first year salaries buddy

Sep 9, 2012

Also interested.

Sep 9, 2012

While we're on the subject, does anyone know of financial services (or really any industry) firms offering internships in the area?

I'm an American exchange student here and I'd like to get more exposure, culturally and professionally, if possible.

Thanks.

Sep 9, 2012

Huge: Abraaj

Sep 9, 2012

Thanks, but Abraaj in this region is like trying to get into a Caryle/KKR in US, unless you have a connection there.

Sep 9, 2012

There is one called Oman Brunei fund ...Dubai International capital.. HBG

Sep 9, 2012

Gulf Capital, Amwal Al Khaleej, NBK Capital, Investcorp are the bigger players. there's also abu dhabi capital management, Masharie, Ithmar Capital, Eastgate Capital Group

Sep 9, 2012

I used to work in the ME, so speaking from personal experience. Recruiting is on hold for now. most of the international firms are actually pulling back. The only region in the ME that's still looking to hire is Saudi Arabia, not sure if you wanna move there.

Sep 9, 2012

would like to know as well - at least they don't have income tax though.

Sep 9, 2012
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