ADIA restructures private equity as it seeks more collaboration with GPs

  • Craig Nickels, head of U.S. fund investing, moving to research role
  • ADIA shifting from PE product groups to geographic teams
  • Looks to partner with GPs as a direct investor

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the most active private equity investors among sovereign funds, is consolidating its private investment team away from separate product groups, a spokesman for ADIA confirmed for Buyouts.

Instead, ADIA is restructuring its team around geographies, including the Americas; Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific. Within those geographic groups, teams will continue to focus on PE direct, fund and secondary investing. In those geographies ADIA focuses primarily on financial services, healthcare, industrials, technology and consumer.

The restructuring has resulted in some departures and role changes in PE. For example, Craig Nickels, head of U.S. fund investing, is shifting to head of research. Nickels joined the sovereign fund in 2013 from Washington University Investment Management, where he was director of private markets.

Nicola Tedesco, a PE investment associate, has left the organization. Other departures include PE portfolio manager Andrew Kripke, who left about a year ago for unrelated reasons, and Anwer Farooqui, head of secondaries and distressed investing, who left in 2016. It’s unclear why Farooqui left.

Some roles will be eliminated under the restructuring and it’s not clear who will be named to new roles. ADIA said internal discussions are ongoing and the organization plans a formal announcement once the roles are set. Along with internal changes, ADIA plans to grow the private equity team, it said.

Sherwood Dodge, a former GE executive ADIA hired last year to head PE, is overseeing the restructuring.

While ADIA in recent years has moved to establish itself as a direct private equity investor, it continues to leverage its fund-investing relationships to partner with its GPs on deals.

ADIA is “not looking to be a GP,” a person with knowledge told Buyouts, but rather a “true partner” to its GPs. ADIA “wants to be an active participant at the earliest stages” of a transaction, the person said.

“We are fortunate to have both a strong in-house global investment team, as well as relationships with leading private equity firms that in many cases span decades,” said Hamad Shahwan Al Dhaheri, executive director of ADIA’s Private Equities Department, in a statement to Buyouts. “These latest changes will open the door to new ways of collaborating, and to building a stronger and more market-aligned private equity practice.”

ADIA recently partnered on some high-profile deals, including fleet-management services company LeasePlan. The company was acquired last year by a consortium including ADIA, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Singapore sovereign fund GIC, Dutch pension administrator PGGM, Denmark’s largest pension, ATP, Goldman Sachs and TDR Capital, a statement at the time said.

ADIA also invested alongside MSD Partners in Dell’s acquisition of EMC, according to the person.

Update: This story has been updated to clarify that some roles will be eliminated as part of the restructuring.

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Buildings in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 27, 2013. Photo courtesy Reuters/Ben Job