The Abraaj Group
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2014)|
|Type||Limited liability company|
|Key people||Arif Naqvi, Founder & CEO|
|Products||Investments, private equity funds|
|Total assets||$7.5 billion|
The Abraaj Group is a leading private equity investor operating in the growth markets of Asia, MENA, Turkey, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Founded in 2002 by Arif Naqvi, the Group has over 25 offices spread across six regional hubs in Istanbul, Mexico City, Mumbai, Dubai, Nairobi and Singapore.
Abraaj currently manages US$7.5 billion in assets across 20+ sector and country-specific Funds, encompassing private equity and real-estate investments. The Group has returned c. US$4.3 billion to investors, setting the standard for private equity investing in growth markets.
In 2013, Abraaj was named the Best Private Equity House in Europe, Middle East and Africa by EMEA Finance's Achievement Awards.
The Abraaj Group is committed to the highest environmental, stakeholder – engagement and corporate- governance standards and are a signatory to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment. Abraaj's Founder, Arif Naqvi, was invited to join the Board of the United Nations Global Compact by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in 2012.
The Abraaj Group is organized into two segments:
- Private Equity - Management of private equity Funds
- Real Estate - Management of real estate investment Funds
Private Equity The Abraaj Group is an investor in global growth markets and has made over 200 investments in 50 countries across ten broad sectors. Abraaj has developed a purpose-built approach for effectively executing a mid-market, control-themed investment strategy that capitalizes on the growth market opportunity.
Funds managed by the Group have holdings in over 140 partner companies. These collectively employ over 200,000 people and currently include:
- Network International, the largest independent payment solutions provider in the Middle East and Africa;
- Orca Global, a regional English-language education service provider with a dominant market share position in Singapore;
- Fan Milk, the market leader in frozen dairy products in West Africa; and
- Acurio, a leading Peruvian restaurant group
Real Estate Abraaj’s Real Estate Investment Team has invested throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and Turkey regions. The investment strategy's focus was to provide stable returns to investors and had three strands:
- Buying high-quality properties in sectors including offices and student accommodation where there were large supply-demand gaps
- Purchasing operationally essential real estate such as supermarkets in sectors where there is a lack of institutional capital
- Investing in alternative investment structures providing stable cash flows
The properties include The 47th office building, Republika and Panda supermarkets.
The Abraaj Group was formed as the result of the acquisition of Aureos Capital by Abraaj Capital in 2012.
In 2002, Arif Naqvi, founded Abraaj with US$ 60.0 million worth of assets under management in Dubai. In 2002, the firm bought NASDAQ-listed Aramex, which is a Jordan-based global transport and logistics company, for c. US$ 65.0 million. One year later, the commitment value of the Abraaj Buyout Fund (ABOF I) was closed at US$ 116.0 million and subsequently ABOF invested in Spinneys. Around the same time, The Abraaj Real Estate Fund was closed at a commitment value of US$ 113.5 million.
Abraaj raised its second fund, The Abraaj Buyout Fund II (ABOF II) in 2005 and consequently an investment was made in Maktoob, which is the Jordan-based Arabic online portal. The website went on to become the most visited Arabic site in the Arab world . At the same time, Aramex was listed on the Dubai Financial Market, raising c. US$ 290.0 million. It was the first private equity-backed IPO in the Middle East. A year later, Abraaj was capitalized at US$ 1.0 billion US$ 2.1 billion of assets under management and it became the first Private Equity group to register with the Dubai Financial Services Authority. The following year, Abraaj made the largest secondary buyout in the Middle East when it bought Egyptian Fertilizers Company for US$ 1.4 billion.
The Firm launched ASAS, its second real estate fund, focused on operationally essential real estate. Two years later, Abraaj acquired the Kantara Fund for US$ 161 million, which made growth capital investments in SME companies across Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.
Aureos Capital was founded in 2001 through the joined forces of Norfud, a Norwegian government-owned private equity firm, and CDC group, a development finance institutions owned by the UK government. The firm started with 43 employees, US$ 72 million Assets under Management and 149 investments in its legacy portfolio of which 70 were exited two years later.
In 2008, Aureos Capital executed a 100% management buyout from Norfund, CDC Group and FMO. The MBO was led by Sev Vettivetpillai, Aureos Capital’s Chief Executive Officer. In the following year, Aureos Capital’s Africa Health Fund secured commitments of US$ 57 million. One of the funds’s first investments was in the Nairobi Women’s Hospital. In 2011, Aureos Capital grew to 158 employees with US$ 1.3 billion of assets under management. In the same year, it created the Aureos Corporate Governance Code, based on South Africa’s King III Code of Corporate Governance and the UK Corporate Governance Code.
In 2012, Abraaj completed the acquisition of Aureos Capital to establish The Abraaj Group. The combined entity has US$ 7.5 billion of assets under management.
In 2012 and 2013, The Abraaj Group was awarded:
- 2013 - “Best Private Equity House in Europe, Middle East and Africa” by EMEA Finance's Achievement Awards 
- 2013 - “North African Private Equity House of the Year” by Private Equity Africa Awards 
- 2013 - "Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Leadership" (for Abraaj Group Partner Sev Vettivetpillai) by Private Equity Africa Awards 
- 2013 - “Exit of the Year” (for Golden Lay, an Abraaj partner company in Zambia) by Private Equity Africa Awards 
- 2013 - “Oslo Business for Peace Award” (for Abraaj Group CEO Arif Naqvi) by Business for Peace Foundation 
- 2012 - “MENA Private Equity Firm of the Year” by Private Equity International
- 2012 - “African Private Equity Investor of the Year” by Africa CEO Forum Awards 
The Abraaj Group Reports
- 2014 – Prosperity and Growth: Abraaj’s report on private sector engagement in Latin America, a region undergoing a process of economic and social transformation – and opening up myriad opportunities for smart capital 
- 2013 – Resilience Amid Change: Abraaj’s North Africa private sector impact report 
The Abraaj Group believes engaging a wide range of stakeholders in the communities in which it operates is a vital part of investing in growth markets where many outcomes depend on collaboration between multiple stakeholders – specifically business, government and civil society. Through the Abraaj Strategic Stakeholder Engagement Track (ASSET), Abraaj seeks to both engage and collaborate with these actors by nurturing and supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem. ASSET’s core theme is about “Empowering Entrepreneurship”-supporting and empowering entrepreneurship at various stages of development, starting with educating young leaders all the way to more established CEOs.
- The Abraaj Group developed a firm-wide program, the “5+5+5” that resources the Group’s stakeholder engagement track. The model encourages Abraaj employees to donate 5% of their annual bonus, and to set aside a minimum of 5 days a year to provide leadership and involvement to the strategic and community engagement programs. 5% of the Abraaj Group’s top-line fee income revenue also goes to support these initiatives and platforms. This program demonstrates the Group’s commitment to value creation through a strong track-record in ESG and building sustainable communities. In 2012, The Abraaj Group employees collectively volunteered 8000 hours to community initiatives through the 5+5+5 program.
Notable key milestones
- 2014: The Abraaj Group establishes the Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholarship at the Royal College of Art in London. It is the largest scholarship of its kind globally for postgraduate studies in the creative sector 
- 2013: The Abraaj Group signs up as a Global Community Partner of the Global Shapers Community
- 2013: The Abraaj Group establishes the Peter Heath Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund at the American University of Sharjah (AUS)
- 2013: The Abraaj Group and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Launch ‘Philanthropy Age’. Philanthropy Age is a quarterly publication intended to move people into changing the nature of their giving and to think about how and where they are giving. It is a call to action.
- 2012: The Abraaj Group funds the Professorship in Private Equity at the American University of Cairo
- 2011: The Abraaj Group partners with Injaz al Arab and Education for Employment to provide support for entrepreneurship and education for youth
- 2011: The Abraaj Group establishes Wamda, an online platform designed to empower entrepreneurs across the MENA region and to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem 
- 2010: The Abraaj Group establishes the Private Equity Professorship at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
- 2010: The Abraaj Group partners with Endeavor and plays an active role in the expansion of Endeavor into Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, UAE and South East Asia
- 2010: The Abraaj Group holds the Celebration of Entrepreneurship (CoE), attracting 2,400 entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders, investors, students and academics from 62 countries
- 2009: The Abraaj Group establishes the Mustaqbali Foundation to provide education for orphans in conflict affected Gaza
- 2008: The Abraaj Group launches the Abraaj Group Art Prize (AGAP), the flagship of its arts patronage program. This is the world’s only art prize to reward proposals rather than completed works of art 
- 2006: The Abraaj Group partners with Ruwwad, a non-profit community focused on youth empowerment programs