The lack of liquidity on the region’s stock markets is delaying exits from local private equity firms.

“Between 2007 and 2008 substantial transactions took place, which should have exited in 2009 and 2010, but there was little activity because of the economic crisis. The majority will come to market in 2012 and we will see a spike toward the end of 2012 assuming markets recover,” says Yousef Bazian, head of Middle East corporate finance and private equity at Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Bazian expects 15-20 exits in 2012.

Most the firms in the region are focusing their investments on the education, healthcare, logistics and energy sectors.

“The focus continues to be in education and healthcare, particularly in the GCC,” says Bazian,

Many of the private equity firms are looking to widen their geographic focus, with greater interest in Turkey, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.