SHUAA Partners closes $100m Levant fund

The Dubai fund manager hopes its regional expertise will give it the edge as it expands its geographic reach to include Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Dubai's SHUAA Partners has closed its Frontier Opportunities Fund I, its second fund, on $100 million (€68.7 million).

The fund will make equity investments in start-ups and existing businesses in the Levant region over a four-year investment period.

The Frontier Opportunities Fund’s initial focus is on Syria, but it will also consider investments in Lebanon and Jordan at a later stage. It will invest in the telecommunications, real estate, financial services and the hospitality sectors, although it may also invest in other sectors on an opportunistic basis.

“Syria represents a frontier that has tremendous potential for foreign investors… We have identified a couple of solid investments with substantial upside, and we believe that private equity money can create value through its special expertise”, said Iyad Duwaji, chief executive officer of SHUAA Capital and chairman of SHUAA Partners, its private equity arm. Duwaji said he believed SHUAA Partners is “well-positioned to attract and execute transactions in Syria given our expertise in the region as a whole, and my first hand knowledge of the country.”

The fund has made one investment thus far – in Syriatel, Syria’s leading GSM operator with more than 55 percent of the market share in the country.

The firm’s first fund, the SHUAA Partners Fund I, closed in September of 2005 with total commitments of $200 million and a mandate to invest in the GCC countries. It has so far deployed 55 percent of its capital in four transactions, according to Jamil Brair, senior vice president at the firm.