Private Equity Firms in Dubai / Middle East

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 (42)

 
Aug 11, 2012 - 2:01am

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 - 4:11am

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 - 6:12am

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 - 6:41am

Abraaj

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
 
Aug 23, 2012 - 7:14am

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.

 
Aug 24, 2012 - 4:12pm

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 - 7:16am

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 - 7:44am

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.

 
Sep 9, 2012 - 7:45am

PE in Dubai (Originally Posted: 04/10/2010)

Hi all,

I'm dreaming of an exotic place to move to for a couple of years and some friends have suggested Dubai.

Does anyone know any good Private Equity firms there? I've heard about Istithmar, Dubai International Capital and DIC Holding but they all seem to have a very poor reputation, especially when it comes to paying juniors.

Thanks

Martina

 
Sep 9, 2012 - 7:48am

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.

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
 
Sep 9, 2012 - 7:51am

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 - 7:53am

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

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
 
Sep 9, 2012 - 7:55am

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.

 
Sep 9, 2012 - 7:56am

Out of college PE salaries in Dubai (Originally Posted: 07/14/2011)

Have a lead that could land me a PE analyst role in Dubai. Just looking for some base figures that I can negotiate upon.

 
Sep 9, 2012 - 7:59am

List of PE Shops in Dubai/UAE (Originally Posted: 09/11/2011)

Hello,

Does anyone here have a list of the PE shops in the Dubai/UAE region. Alternatively, if you know a source that would work as well. Thanks much!!

-B

 
Sep 9, 2012 - 8:00am

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 - 8:05am

Anyone aware of Associate level PE recrutings in Singapore/UAE/Middle East? (Originally Posted: 05/08/2012)

Anyone aware of Associate level PE recrutings in UAE/Middle East?

Hey there, I was wondering if anyone has any insight to PE recruiting in this Middle East region, where is recruiting happening and whom to contact as such?

Thanks!
-Blinga

Private Equity, Singapore, UAE, Middle East, GCC, Venture Capital, PE, VC, PE/VC, VC/PE

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