Emerging From Abraaj’s Shadow: How Sponsors and the Entire PE Industry Are Adapting to the Aftermath (Part Two of Two)

The collapse of the Abraaj Group, once the largest PE firm in the Middle East, was swift and dramatic, including a record $315‑million fine levied by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and criminal cases in the U.S. and Dubai. The highly publicized fall of Abraaj has engendered skepticism among many institutional investors toward the entire Middle East, which has forced PE sponsors there to adapt to survive. There remains hope, however, that changes adopted by sponsors specifically and the industry at large – both culturally and legally – will put them in a position to thrive in the coming years. To appreciate the ramifications of Abraaj’s collapse on the one‑year anniversary of the DFSA’s fine, the Private Equity Law Report interviewed a number of industry experts in the Middle East. This second article in a two-part series analyzes how PE sponsors and the industry as a whole in the Middle East are evolving to both survive today and emerge stronger in the future. The first article summarized the status of pending cases against Abraaj, along with how the DFSA and LPs have reacted to the firm’s collapse. For more on the Middle East, see “Ways Fund Managers Can Adjust to Rapidly Changing Regulatory Frameworks in the Middle East and Europe” (Jul. 13, 2017); and “United Arab Emirates Implements Licensing Regime for Firms Providing Investment Management Services” (May 23, 2014).

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