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Thu 28 Jan 2010 02:28 PM

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Abraaj launches $50m Palestinian fund for SMEs

Dubai-based firm will manage fund through its SME management platform Riyada.

Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital said on Thursday it launched a $50 million Palestinian fund focused on investing in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region.

Abraaj, the Middle East's biggest private equity firm, said it raised $15 million for the fund together with its sponsor, the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF).

The private equity firm said initial commitments for the fund would be supplemented by money raised from investors later this year.

"We are very proud to be a part of this initiative and to be able to contribute to the development of the Palestinian economy in a sustainable way," Arif Naqvi, founder and chief executive of Abraaj, said in a news release.

Abraaj said it will manage the fund through its dedicated SME investment-management platform, Riyada Enterprise Development. The private equity firm will put in $50 million of its own capital to the SME venture.

Abraaj has permanently relocated several of its senior investment professionals and said it expects Riyada to comprise 25 to 30 full-time investment professionals in the future.

In November, Abraaj raised its capital to $1.5 billion through a $375 million rights issue and acquired Riyada Ventures as part of a push into the small- to medium-sized enterprise segment.

Earlier this week, the firm said it may close its first transaction in Saudi Arabia within the first half of the year with a deal most likely to be in healthcare or education. (Reuters)

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