Dubai private equity firm under parent control

Daily News Egypt
3 Min Read

DUBAI: Dubai International Capital’s (DIC) board was dissolved in January and the private equity firm was brought under the control of its parent conglomerate, Dubai Holding, in a move that relinquished the role of its founder.

A company statement on Sunday said the DIC board was dissolved in January, after a report in the UK’s Sunday Times paper mentioned Sameer al Ansari, former chief executive of DIC, as having left his non-executive role on the board.

"DIC is currently under the direct supervision of Dubai Holding," the statement said. However, the statement did not specify Ansari’s departure from his non-executive role. He is currently the chief executive of Dubai-based investment bank, Shuaa Capital.

The announcement further compounds looming problems at DIC’s parent Dubai Holding, which spans financial investments, hospitality and real estate and is owned by the emirate’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

It also underscores the lack of transparency that continues to plague the region unaccustomed to public glare.

Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group (DHCOG), the parent’s main unit, posted a $6.2 billion loss for 2009 and said it was in talks with banks to roll over debt and may resort to asset sales.

Ansari founded DIC in 2004 and took on the role of executive chairman and chief executive, and spearheaded its international expansion. Under Ansari’s leadership, DIC spread its wings globally by acquiring stakes in German aluminum firm Almatis and Merlin Entertainments Group in the UK.

Dubai was hit hard by the global financial and economic slowdown, which paralyzed its real estate model, and brought to light heavy investment losses in the banking and property sectors.

The emirate’s growth model, premised on excessive borrowing to fund ambitious development projects at home and prestigious investments internationally, has resulted in a need to restructure debts and potentially sell high profile assets.

In May, DIC sought a three month debt repayment delay on certain maturities, underscoring the debt problems plaguing the emirate’s government owned entities, collectively known as Dubai Inc.

A source later told Reuters that DIC had sold off its last listed, liquid assets.

As a result of the growing debt troubles in the emirate, several high ranking officials have already left their posts, but more high profile exits are expected as part of a management shake-up at Dubai Inc companies.

David Jackson, former chief executive of Dubai World’s investment arm Istithmar World, which owns stakes in luxury retailer Barneys New York, was replaced in January.

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