Carlyle raises $500m MENA fund

The global buyout fund has closed its first MENA-focused fund with half of the commitments it had originally targeted. Among other sectors, the fund will invest in energy and infrastructure.

Global buyout firm The Carlyle Group has raised its first fund focused on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, garnering $500 million in commitments. The fund had been targeting up to $1 billion, as previously reported by sister website PrivateEquityOnline.

The fund, which was launched to investors in 2007, will invest in non-distressed companies in various sectors, including energy, financial services, healthcare, industrial, infrastructure, technology and transportation.

Walid Musallam, head of Carlyle’s MENA team, said in a statement that the firm had been “cautious about investing in the pre-global crisis environment of high valuations” and that the region now offers an opportunity to investors. Musallam, formerly the chief executive of sovereign wealth-backed Abu Dhabi Investment Company, joined the firm in December 2006.

Carlyle’s activity in the region so far comprises one investment: the acquisition of 50 percent of Turkish shipbuilder TVK Gemi Yapim Sanayi ve Ticaret in 2008.

The Washington, DC-headquartered firm has been present in the MENA region since 2007 and has offices in Cairo, Dubai and Istanbul. It was the first global buyout firm to establish a physical MENA presence, and has since been followed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which hired ex-Lehman Brothers banker Makram Azar to build a MENA team in September last year.

Just under $6 billion was raised for private equity investment in the Middle East during 2008, according to the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association, representing the region’s largest fundraising year to date.

Last week Carlyle closed its second mezzanine fund with commitments of $553 million, having been marketing the fund since 2007.