United Arab Emirates
Banking & Finance
Head of Strategy, ADIA
Jean Paul Villain is the strategic mastermind behind the spending of the world's second-largest SWF, believed to have assets of around $500bn to $700bn.
The Frenchman is responsible for deciding where best to deploy Abu Dhabi's formidable financial firepower, and will be on the lookout for depressed assets he feels can be revitalised into goldmines for the UAE capital's investment arm.
Born in 1946, Villain was educated in Paris in politics, economics and sciences (applied mathematics). After a brief period as assistant professor in finance at Paris University, he joined Banque Paribas in 1971 moving progressively from portfolio manager to head of investments in the asset management department.
In 1982 Villain joined the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) as regional manager for Europe, before being appointed senior fund manager for all financial assets.
Paribas, however, lured him back in 1987, where he became the first CEO and chief investment officer of the bank's newly created arm Paribas Asset Management.
In September 1992, history repeated itself and Villain returned to ADIA as regional manager for European assets before being promoted in 1995 to the position of advisor and later senior advisor for investment strategy. He currently heads up the strategy unit that forms part of the managing director's office, and is a member of ADIA's strategy committee, and chair of ADIA's compensation working group.
A board member of the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank since 2004, Villain is also a member of the investment committee of the Abu Dhabi Benefits and Retirement Fund; the pension fund for the citizens of Abu Dhabi.
Villain was awarded the coveted Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by the French government in 2007, in appreciation of his contribution to the enhancement of France's image abroad.