GMG lands in the region with family focus

17 February 2006

UK-based corporate finance and asset management company Gulf Merchant Group (GMG) is planning to establish a regional office in Dubai to offer investment banking, fund management, capital markets and private client services targeted at family businesses in the GCC. The company, a joint venture of its managing partner Nabil Maaloul and the local Al-Ghaith Holding, will focus on family businesses and plans to introduce regional investors to undervalued European and US companies. Its activities will also cover India and North Africa. 'The objective is to expand partnerships, build relationships and bridge regions,' says Maaloul. 'We won't offer plain vanilla funds that invest in UAE or US equities. We are structuring sophisticated funds to sell internationally.' GMG's private client business will focus on the protection and growth of family business assets, Maaloul says. 'Only a third of family businesses survive to the third generation. They don't have the expertise or the vision. We can help.'

GMG has signed an exclusive regional investment banking partnership agreement with Cantor Fitzgerald to offer merger and acquisition, equity and debt issue, cross-border transactions and capital-raising services. 'Groups come to the GCC and see opportunities and enormous pools of finance,' says Cantor Fitzgerald's managing director of investment banking Roger Kennedy. 'But it's a relationship-driven business. If you don't have a relationship with senior members of senior families, you don't have the business. That is how we are competing.' GMG will start regional operations once its application to Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) to join Dubai International Financial Centre has been approved. It is negotiating other international partnerships and plans to have about $200 million under management. 'Our brain is in London, leveraged by the strength of other financial institutions tying up with us,' says Maaloul. The company also has plans to dual list on a regional and international stock exchange.

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