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Wed 19 Jun 2019 02:17 PM

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Ex-UBS banker said to lead bid for Abraaj funds

Sources say boutique investment firm founded byYassine Bouhara is bidding to buy funds managed by the collapsed Abraaj Group

Ex-UBS banker said to lead bid for Abraaj funds

A boutique investment firm founded by former UBS Group banker Yassine Bouhara is bidding to buy funds managed by the collapsed Abraaj Group, according to a proposal letter and people familiar with the plans.

Tell Group is offering $25 million to transfer the management of seven Abraaj funds to a new entity that would be 20 percent owned by Tell and 80 percent by Abraaj’s unsecured creditors, according to the letter seen by Bloomberg and the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Unsecured creditors, which include Air Arabia and a Kuwaiti pension fund, would become shareholders in the new company through a debt-for-equity swap, according to the letter. Abraaj management wouldn’t be involved in the new firm, according to the proposal.

Until last year, Abraaj was the Middle East’s biggest private equity fund and one of the world’s most influential emerging-market investors, with investments across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Turkey.

The Dubai-based firm, which managed almost $14 billion, was forced into liquidation after a group of investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, commissioned an audit to investigate the alleged mismanagement of money in its health-care fund.

Deloitte, one of Abraaj’s liquidators, didn’t respond to an email request for comment.

US prosecutors have so far charged six former executives of Abraaj for multiple counts including fraud and conspiracy. Founder Arif Naqvi was last month released from custody in London, almost a month after being granted a record 15 million-pound ($19 million) conditional bail.

Tell Group was founded in 2015 by Bouhara, who was co-head of global equities at UBS and also worked at Deutsche Bank for 13 years.

Sethu Palaniappan, also a former Deutsche Bank and UBS executive, is the group’s chief financial officer, while former McKinsey & Co consultant Amine Tazi-Riffi is a partner at the firm.

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