The Abraaj Group has rejected claims by investors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that it has misused $200 million allocated to a healthcare fund.
A story in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend claimed that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) unit, CDC Group PLC and Proparco Group had hired forensic accountants Ankura to look into why their combined $200m investment in the $1bn Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund (AGHF) had remained unspent – and why, as per the contract, it hadn’t been returned to them.
It was further claimed that Dubai-based Abraaj, one of the most influential venture capital vehicles in the developing world, had been using funds meant for the purchase of hospitals in Pakistan, India and Nigeria for operational expenses.
In a written statement on Sunday, Abraaj denied any wrongdoing, saying the reports were “inaccurate and misleading”.
It did confirm that “some capital was not used as quickly as anticipated due to unforeseen political and regulatory developments in several of the Fund’s operating markets” but that the delays “were regularly communicated to investors through quarterly General Partner Reports and other investor communications”.
“Importantly,” the statement continued, “Abraaj’s fund management practices were consistent with the Limited Partnership Agreement for AGHF. Our external legal counsel has issued an opinion confirming this.”
Founded in 2002 by Arif Naqvi, Abraaj has around $14 billion under management, with the majority invested in projects in Asia and Africa. Healthcare has been an increasing part of their portfolio, including a network of private hospitals in Hyderabad, India and the Islamabad Diagnostic Centre. In 2016, they allocated $545 million to acquire hospitals in Nigeria, Pakistan and India.
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