UAE regulator instructed listed firms to declare their exposure to private equity group last month
Amanat confirms Middlesex University Dubai asset purchase and no other exposure to Abraaj Group
Amanat Holdings, the health and education sector investment specialist based in Dubai, confirmed its purchase of Middlesex University’s Dubai campus from owners including Abraaj Group, which went into provisional liquidation last month, and said it has no other exposure to the projects or funds managed by the ailing private equity firm.
“Prior to provisional liquidators being appointed in respect of Abraaj Group, [Amanat] has entered on an arm's length basis into a share purchase agreement on 8 June 2018 with Mocha Education Holdings to acquire 100 per cent of the share capital of Middlesex Associates,” Amanat said in a regulatory filing to the Dubai Financial Market, where its shares are listed. “The company wishes through this disclosure to have confirmed the integrity of the procedures, and the lack of any exposure toward [Abraaj],” it said.
Mocha Education Holdings, which is registered with the Dubai International Financial Centre, owns and operates Middlesex University in Dubai. Abraaj is a limited partner in investment funds with third parties, and owns an indirect 6 per cent stake in Middlesex Associates, Amanat said on Monday, adding that the deal is subject to fulfilment of several conditions.
Bloomberg reported last week that Abraaj had reached a deal to sell its stake for $100 million, and that Amanat would own all of the UK university, which recorded $40m in annual revenues last year.
A few days later, Amanat’s managing director Shamsheer Vayalil told Bloomberg the investment company is scouting for further deals and seeks to capitalise on the collapse of Abraaj, which was once the Middle East’s biggest buyout firm, with more than $13.6 billion of assets under management at its peak.
“We want to be No 1 and now is the real opportunity to gain that position,” Mr Vayalil said at the time.
Amanat primarily specialises in healthcare and education sector investments and has an asset portfolio about equally split between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the two biggest Arabian Gulf economies. The company last Wednesday said it acquired the real estate assets of North London Collegiate School in Dubai from owner PNC Investments, in a sale-and-leaseback deal worth Dh360m.
Amanat plans to expand its footprint beyond the Arabian Gulf, it said in April, after posting a 10 per cent rise in full-year 2017 net profit in February.
Its declaration of non-exposure to Abraaj comes after regulator the Securities and Commodities Authority instructed companies listed in the UAE to reveal their exposure to Abraaj last month. The private equity firm is working with liquidators to restructure its liabilities following allegations earlier this year that it misused investors’ funds in a healthcare investment vehicle.
The $1bn Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund deployed capital from investors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the UK’s CDC Group and Proparco Group of France.
These four out of a total 24 investors requested an audit of the health fund and appointed investigators to find out what had happened to some of the money invested in it. Abraaj has denied any wrongdoing.
Last month it said it agreed to sell its Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Turkey funds management business to US investment management firm Colony Capital.