Six figures in the region’s private equity and alternative investments sector: Arif Masood Naqvi, Nemir Kirdar, Atif Abdulmalik, Ahmed Heikal, Shirish Saraf and David Smoot
Arif Masood Naqvi
Position: Chief executive officer (CEO), Abraaj Capital
Biography: Arif Masood Naqvi established UAE-based Abraaj Capital in 2002 and has developed it into one of the world’s top 50 private equity groups. The firm has made more than 40 investments, completed 21 exits from those and has about $6.2bn-worth of assets under management. Naqvi has been involved in Abraaj’s acquisition and exit from Dubai-listed logistics firm Aramex, UK-based shipping company Inchcape’s Middle East interests and investment in the Spinneys supermarket chain. He also sits on the board of several policy groups, including the World Economic Forum Arab Business Council, where he is the only non-Arab member, and the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association. Naqvi has a degree in economics from the London School of Economics. He started his career at US-based accountancy firm Arthur Andersen.
Contact Tel: (+971) 4 506 4400
Position: Executive chairman and CEO, Investcorp
Biography: Nemir Kirdar is executive chairman and CEO of Bahrain-headquartered Investcorp, which he founded in 1982. Kirdar has grown the company to manage about $12bn-worth of assets. Investcorp aims to redirect surplus funds from the Gulf into investments in the US and western Europe. Its client base is high net-worth individuals and institutions, primarily from the GCC, but also from the US and Europe. Kirdar began two years of credit training in New York in 1969, then worked in Southeast Asia for Allied Bank International. He joined the US’ Chase Manhattan Bank in 1974, and from 1976 ran the bank’s operations in the Gulf until he founded Investcorp. Kirdar has a degree in economics from the University of the Pacific and a master’s degree in business administration from Fordham University, both in the US.
Contact Tel: (+973) 1 753 2000
Position: CEO, Arcapita
Biography: Atif Abdulmalik is one of the founders of Bahrain-based Arcapita. Abdulmalik established the firm in 1997 as First Islamic Investment Bank. In 2005, the lender and its subsidiaries changed their name to Arcapita. Since then it has grown to become one of the region’s most well-known private equity and alternative investment firms, with assets of about $4.4bn. It is a major employer in Bahrain and a key part of the island’s claim to being a regional finance centre. Recently, Arcapita hit financial difficulties, and in late March filed for bankruptcy protection after it failed to agree a plan to refinance a $1.1bn loan. Arcapita’s future is now unclear as it tries to overcome its financial problems. Abdulmalik has a degree in accounting, finance and management from Saint Edward’s University in the US. In 2007, he was awarded the Proficiency Medal First Class by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.
Contact Tel: (+973) 1 721 8333
Position: Chairman, Citadel Capital
Biography: Ahmed Heikal is the founder of Egypt’s Citadel Capital, which was formed in 2004. It has since developed into one of the most significant private equity firms in the country and across the region. Citadel has raised $4.8bn, completed 54 acquisitions and company formations, and has been involved in investments across 15 countries. It is currently involved in the development of a $3.7bn oil refinery in Cairo. In 2010, the firm accounted for 27.5 per cent of all private equity funds raised for investment in the Middle East and North Africa. Prior to founding Citadel, Heikal worked for Egyptian investment bank EFG Hermes, where he held several roles, including head of asset management. He helped EFG Hermes become one of the largest investment lenders in the Arab world. Heikal has a master’s and a doctorate degree in industrial engineering and engineering management from Stanford University in the US.
Contact Tel: (+20) 2 2791 4440
Position: Vice-chairman and CEO, Samena Capital
Biography: Shirish Saraf started his career with Australia’s ANZ Investment Bank, where he set up one of the first private equity funds dedicated to investing in India. Saraf then joined Bahrain’s Taib Bank, working on several significant deals in India and the GCC. In 2002, he became one of the co-founders and managing directors of Abraaj Capital. After leaving Abraaj, Saraf established Bahrain-based Samena Capital in 2008 to focus on investing in the Indian subcontinent, Asia, Middle East and North Africa region. The firm’s shareholders include the UAE’s Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al-Nahyan, Qatar’s Sheikh Nawaf bin Nasser bin Khaled al-Thani and Bahrain’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Isa al-Khalifa, among other senior figures in the region. Saraf has a degree in economics with a specialisation in international trade and development from the London School of Economics.
Contact Tel: (+973) 1 711 2280
Position: CEO, Dubai International Capital (DIC)
Biography: David Smoot joined DIC in June 2008, shortly before the financial crisis hit Dubai and forced the emirate into a wave of debt restructurings. DIC did not escape this trend, and Smoot, who joined as chief investment officer in 2008 and became CEO in 2010, has been instrumental in steering the firm through a difficult period. DIC announced in April that it had agreed a restructuring of $2.5bn of debt. Smoot will now need to ensure it can meet its obligations to lenders and get enough value out of its assets, most of them bought at the peak of the boom, to meet those obligations. He is also chairman of DIC’s portfolio companies Almatis, Doncasters and Jordan Dubai Capital. Smoot is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Duke University, both in the US. He has 16 years of experience in the banking and private equity sector and has spent 11 years with the US’ Morgan Stanley.
Contact Tel: (+971) 4 362 1888
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