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Challenges and Opportunities we see in Private Equity in the Middle East (MENA) regionUser Rating: / 0,
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PoorBest Financial MarketWritten by Ziad K. Abdelnour Wednesday, 28 July 2010 07:18

Since the oil shock of the 1970s, petrodollars have found their way back into the West, often as investments in private equity funds in Kuwait. The investors ranged from wealthy merchant families in Kuwaitand Saudi Arabia to the nascent sovereign wealth funds of the region. There are many family businesses based in the Gulf,
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As oil prices stagnated in the 1980s and 1990s, economic growth and bureaucratic governments dampened private sector opportunities. Then in 2002 the price of oil started steadily climbing again,
385475 153 Air Jordan 2 Retro Concord White Concord Black(3), causing a renewed stream of surplus liquidity to search for profitable investment outlets. This, coupled with broad economic and regulatory reforms by many countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE, led to new found interest in investing within the Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. During previous cycles, most of the surplus capital had been recycled back into Europe and the United States, but after 9/11, many Middle East started investing in their domestic markets.

Initially, most of the surplus capital was invested in local equities and property, but gradually some found its way into the region’s embryonic private equity funds. When oil prices later began to soar they caused capital to gush into the Gulf at an unprecedented rate,
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The attractions of the asset class are clear. Stoked by rising oil revenue, the MENA region’s annual real economic growth rate has comfortably averaged above 5% every year since 2000, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), far exceeding rates in most developed countries. While the recent drop in hydrocarbon prices heading into 2009 will shave capital inflows,
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What’s most disturbing today though is that there hasn’t been a single bad news story about any major private equity firm in the Middle East since the start of the financial crisis,
Air Jordan 5 Retro White Metallic Silver Black(15), except of course the news coming out of a few publicly listed investment groups such as Invest corp or high profile sovereign backed entities like Istithmar. Invest corp described the recent trading period as the most challenging since the firm was founded in 1982, yet no other privately held firm has come out with any bad news about staffing, portfolio, access to credit, fund raising or deal pipeline. Instead most industry commentators have painted a picture of ‘opportunities abound’ with falling valuations,
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While we believe there will always be opportunities,
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Well, despite the favorable economic backdrop and recent proliferation of funds, the deal flow is very small. Most of the private equity funds in Dubai are actually investing in the non Gulf region. Further, it is a fact that one in every four merger and acquisition deals of just over 200 deals tracked by us between January 1 and April 15,
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Also,
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While the local funds that know the region intimately are still staffed with lots of financial engineers; graduates of the best Ivy League schools in the world, they still have real few operators on board truly capable of taking portfolio companies to the next level; when and if needed.

So at the end of the day, we believe that even survivors will need to seriously rethink their business models, most likely opting for increased specialization, smaller funds,
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One of the most important factors for most firms to consider when repositioning themselves will be their relationships with family businesses, who in most cases are also clients or investors. In the Middle East, these family groups constitute more than 70% of the regional economy and control hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate assets. They are the most sophisticated and proven entrepreneurs in the region with adequate investment capital, deep operational know how and privileged market access.

It is ironic that these family groups have inadvertently funded one of the biggest entrepreneurial experiments the region has ever seen: the establishment of the regional "Private Equity Firm". This new breed of entrepreneur claimed unique insight into matters of corporate governance, succession planning and unlocking financial value from conglomerates, which were all pressing issues for family groups. In reality many Private Equity groups were, knowingly or unknowingly, evolving into cleverly disguised competitors of their investors rather than value adding partners.

It is highly unlikely that family businesses will continue to bankroll Private Equity firms without forcing them to transform into effective partners. The alternative will be to seek new capital from other institutional sources.

We at Blackhawk Partners believe that even survivors will need to drastically rethink their respective value propositions, most likely opting for increased specialization,
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Despite the challenges articulated, it is our view that private equity has a very bright future for those who adapt and will play an increasingly pivotal role in the development of the private sector. Based on our internal estimates we think it likely that private equity will grow into at least a $7 $10 billion per annum industry by 2016 which bodes well for those who are willing to persevere through the crisis. For those still clinging to their old traditions of doing business,
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Ziad K. Abdelnour is a deal maker, trader and financier with over 20 year experience in merchant banking, private equity,
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Ziad K,
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Ziad K. Abdelnour is a deal maker, trader and financier with over 20 year experience in merchant banking, private equity, alternative investments and physical commodities trading. Mr. Abdelnour has been a trusted advisor to a number of the largest family offices in the United States,
378037 117 Kids Air Jordan 11 Legend Blue White Black Legend Blue(13), Europe and the Middle East and a turnaround investor in a number of companies where Mr. Abdelnour

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