Abraaj to invest $2bn in 2011-12

Abraaj has raised $7 billion since it started in 2002 (FILE)

Dubai-based Abraaj Capital expects to invest $2 billion in 2011 and 2012, and the private equity firm is eyeing a number of deals this year, its top executive said, signalling a revival for the battered industry.

"We have a fund which is worth $2 billion dollars, and we are looking to deploy most of it this year and next year," Arif Naqvi, Abraaj's chief executive officer, told reporters on the sidelines of an investment conference in Riyadh on Sunday.

The private equity firm expects to complete several deals during the year.

"I would be disappointed if we did not do at least 3-4 deals. The market is back," he said.

Middle East private equity investments plunged in the last couple of years, with investors backing out of capital calls, sellers demanding higher prices than buyers were willing to pay and increasing competition from family groups hampering growth.

But the industry is slowly showing signs of revival in 2011, and experts see more deals closing than in the previous two years. Earlier in the month, British-based international bank Standard Chartered said its private equity arm expected to complete two transactions in the Middle East in 2011 and does not rule out another $100 million deal.

In December, Dubai-based lender Emirates NBD said it would sell a 49 per cent stake in its subsidiary Network International for Dh2 billion ($539 million) to Abraaj.

Abraaj is the Middle East's biggest private equity fund, having raised $7 billion since it started in 2002.

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