Carlyle raises US$500m for MENA investment

US LBO powerhouse the Carlyle Group has closed its first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) fund, raising US$500m from investors.

The fund will target companies operating in a range of sectors, with particular attention to those in the energy, financial services, healthcare, industrial, infrastructure, technology and transportation markets.

Walid Musallam, Carlyle’s MENA head and managing director, said: “The current market environment represents an opportunity for experienced investors to deploy capital at significantly more favorable valuations than existed last year. We believe we are well placed to capitalize on opportunities that offer considerable returns for our investors while minimizing downside risk. We have an excellent team of investment professionals with exceptional standards of training and experience and unparalleled insight into the markets.”

That team has been in existence since March 2007, and already operates from three offices in the region – Cairo, Dubai and Istanbul. The 12-strong investment group has made one investment to date, acquiring a 50% stake in TVK Gemi Yapim Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S., a Turkish shipbuilder, in July 2008.

Target areas in the MENA remit include Turkey, North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia), the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), the Levant (Lebanon and Jordan) and Pakistan.

Carlyle is the first of the global private equity giants to have set up a fund specifically aimed at the MENA region, although others players are interested in creating a presence there. In September last year fellow US buyouts group KKR appointed Makram Azar as its MENA head and is due to open a Middle Eastern office soon.