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Fri 25 May 2018 09:55 AM

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Abraaj said to mull sale of stake in Dubai university campus

Sources say private-equity firm is in talks with Amanat Holdings to sell stake in Middlesex University's campus in Dubai

Abraaj said to mull sale of stake in Dubai university campus

Abraaj Group, the private-equity firm battling allegations it has misused funds, is in talks to sell its stake in Middlesex University’s campus in Dubai to Amanat Holdings, people familiar with the matter said.

Negotiations with Dubai-based Amanat, which invests in healthcare and education, are at an advanced stage, said the people, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

No final agreement has been reached and the deal could still fall apart, they said. Abraaj had been in talks to sell the university to London-based private-equity investor, Actis, but negotiations stalled, the people said.

The Middle East’s biggest buyout firm is reorganizing its structure after allegations that it misused client money - including from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank - sent shock waves through the ranks of local dealmakers.

The company this month is said to have told creditors the sale of a stake in its fund-management unit and its Pakistani utility will help resolve potential liquidity issues.

Two separate investigations at the firm found potential irregularities beyond only the health fund, people familiar with the matter said last week. Abraaj has previously said the funds are properly accounted for.

Abraaj has also been struggling to find a buyer for its investment in Saudi Tadawi Healthcare Co, long before the allegations surfaced, the people said. The company, which Abraaj bought into in January 2008, is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest retail pharmacy chains with about 500 outlets, according to the drugstore’s LinkedIn page.

Spokesmen at Amanat and Actis declined to comment, while those at Middlesex University and Abraaj didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. No one at Tadawi was reachable.

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