Arif Naqvi’s Abraaj Group Hires Deloitte for Review of Business, $1Bln Troubled Fund

Abraaj’s founder Arif Naqvi handed day-to-day running of the investment management business to two co-chief executives and the group was split into Abraaj Investment Management Ltd (AIML) and Abraaj Holdings in late February.

(BE2C2) — Dubai-based Abraaj Group has hired Deloitte to examine its business, including its troubled $1 billion healthcare fund, after investors questioned an earlier review by KPMG of the embattled fund, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The private equity firm, a major emerging markets investor, has been trying to stem the fallout from a dispute with four of its investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank’s International Finance Corp (IFC) arm, over the use of their money in the fund.

Abraaj has always denied reports that it misused the money but the scandal at the Middle East’s largest private equity firm is seen to have taken the shine off a fast-growing sector in the region.

A Deloitte team, including specialists in forensic accounting services, is said to be working inside Abraaj’s office to help the healthcare fund review its governance and control mechanisms, the sources said.

Abraaj said in an email to the news agency it does not comment on mandates for its advisers, while Deloitte declined to comment. KPMG, the Gates Foundation and IFC have also declined to comment.

Some investors felt the month-long KPMG review, completed on Feb.7, was conducted too quickly and was not comprehensive, one of the sources said. Deloitte was therefore brought on board by Abraaj to conduct a separate review, the sources added.

Abraaj has said KPMG conducted a review based on agreed-upon procedures and had verified that all payments and receipts in the fund were in line with agreed procedures.

Abraaj’s founder Arif Naqvi handed day-to-day running of the investment management business to two co-chief executives and the group was split into Abraaj Investment Management Ltd (AIML) and Abraaj Holdings in late February.

Naqvi remains CEO of Abraaj Holdings, a significant shareholder of AIML, the fund management business.

Founded in 2002 by Pakistani businessman and entrepreneur Naqvi, Abraaj has shaken up its management, suspended new investments and freed up large investors from millions of dollars in capital commitments after deciding to suspend in a planned $6 billion new fund.

The firm was managing $13.6 billion before it decided to return money to its investors in its new fund.

Investors in the healthcare fund have hired forensic accountants Ankura Consulting to determine whether Abraaj breached any agreements on money that was drawn down but not invested, sources told Reuters earlier. Ankura has not responded to Reuters queries.

“We are working collaboratively on a range of issues with investors in our Healthcare Fund while also preserving the Fund’s vital mission of delivering affordable, accessible and quality healthcare to underserved markets,” Abraaj said when asked about how the money was handled.

Abraaj had earlier said it had returned the unused capital in December, following discussions with investors and denied allegations that it misused the cash.

Abraaj has seen senior departures including the resignation of its chief financial officer–two other senior executives are also preparing to leave, and is considering selling part of its investment management business and is also considering a round of job cuts, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last month.

According to the Financial Times, Abraaj is considering a stake sale as it looks to bolster its finances and calm aggrieved investor sentiment.

“The emerging-markets private equity fund has been approached by global investors about selling a stake, said people with direct knowledge of the matter.”

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