Makram Azar, managing director for the Middle East and North Africa at KKR, says that, by acting as a co-investor alongside the funds, his firm will be able to help reassure those in the West who are nervous about the motives behind sovereign wealth investments.

Concerns over the motives behind the activities of sovereign wealth funds recently led the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to agree best practice guidelines with some of the world’s largest funds, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority fund.

The Santiago Principles were agreed at a meeting in Chile in early September (MEED 5:9:08).

“The funds have a lot of cash but not a lot of opportunity,” he says. “By acting as a co-investor, we can give them access to a much wider deal flow from Western markets.

“Co-investing with KKR will help countries receiving sovereign wealth fund investment understand what their motives are.”

The private equity firm has yet to decide where to base its operations, but Azar says it hopes to have evaluated the region’s different financial centres and begun applying for a licence before the end of the year.

Azar will also be responsible for identifying opportunities in the Middle East for investors from outside the region.