Abu Dhabi’s SWF said to hire Axa Private Equity COO

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority's headquarters in the UAE capital.

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority's headquarters in the UAE capital.

Christophe Florin, chief operating officer of Axa Private Equity, has left to join the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

Florin, who was also a member of the executive board of French insurer Axa SA’s private-equity unit, will head ADIA’s emerging markets private-equity team, said the people, who declined to be identified because the appointment has yet to be announced. He’ll be based in Abu Dhabi, they said.

ADIA, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, is boosting its private-equity team as it seeks to increase its ability to invest in buyout funds and deals. It has mandated two London-based recruitment firms to find about 40 private-equity professionals in London and Europe, two of the people said. Florin’s hire follows the December appointment of Benjamin Weston, chief executive officer of Helvetica Wealth Management Partners, as global head of alternative investments.

Officials for Axa Private Equity and ADIA declined to comment.

Florin, who joined Axa Private Equity in 1998, was head of the firm’s Asian operations between 2005 and 2008, before returning to Paris to take on his latest position. He is leaving just as Dominique Senequier, Axa Private Equity’s CEO, works on a spinoff of the Paris-based firm, which manages US$28bn of assets.

Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE and home to about 7 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, is trying to diversify away from oil by investing globally. It set up ADIA in 1976 to manage proceeds from its oil wealth. ADIA, which doesn’t invest in the UAE or typically in the Gulf Arab region, had assets valued at US$328bn at the end of 2008, according to economists at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, the latest available data.

ADIA, in March, appointed Eduardo Favrin as head of Latin America in its internal equities department from HSBC Global Asset Management. It named Pascal Duhamel as head of its European real estate investments a month earlier. Duhamel joined from Carrefour Property in Paris, where he was the chief executive officer since 2008.

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