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Ithmaar Bank and Shamil Bank raise USD200m at first closing of alternatives fund

Ithmaar Bank, Shamil Bank and Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf (Bahamas) have announced they have met their target of raising USD200m for the first closing of the USD500m Aldar Priva

Ithmaar Bank, Shamil Bank and Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf (Bahamas) have announced they have met their target of raising USD200m for the first closing of the USD500m Aldar Private Equity Fund.

The Bahrain-domiciled closed-ended investment fund provides investors with the opportunity to access alternative asset investments including real estate, the general private equity sector and possibly Sharia-compliant hedge funds. The fund focuses especially on the high growth regions of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

The fund will be operated in compliance with Sharia principles. Ithmaar Bank and Shamil Bank, both members of the Ithmaar banking group, are founding sponsors, with the former also acting as the fund’s investment manager; Islamic Investment Company also has a seat on the investment committee.

‘The first closing of the Aldar Private Equity Fund reflects confidence in our fund management ability,’ says Ithmaar Bank’s chief executive, Michael Lee. ‘This fund is one of many alternative asset and private equity funds that we will be rolling out in the coming months and years.’

Lee is chairman of the fund’s investment committee, which also includes Shamil Bank chief executive Mohammed Hussain. ‘One of the main objectives of the fund will be to invest in companies just before expected surges in revenues and profits,’ Hussain says. ‘Investment opportunities in Asia are particularly attractive, given the recent economic performance in China and India.’

Lee has 35 years of experience in international finance and deep knowledge of the region, plus a strong track record in private equity. He previously was deputy chairman and managing director of Emerging Markets Partnership (Bahrain), which founded and manages the USD730m Islamic Development Bank Infrastructure Fund, and continues to sit on the fund’s policy management board.

Earlier Lee was a managing director at Merrill Lynch-White Weld Capital Markets, where he headed the international investment banking group responsible for financial institutions and private placements, and chief executive of Dean Witter Capital Markets International, lead-managing transactions for multilateral, governmental, financial institution and corporate clients and advising private equity funds.

Hussain joined Shamil Bank at its launch in 2000 and served in various senior positions before becoming chief executive. He was previously general manager of Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf (Bahrain before its merger with Faysal Islamic Bank of Bahrain.

Earlier Hussain was a senior vice-president with Smith Barney in Bahrain, director of marketing and finance at Bahrain International Bank and an assistant vice-president at Gulf International Bank. He currently sits on the boards of Meezan Bank (Pakistan), Eskan Bank (Bahrain), EMP Bahrain and the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance.

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