People

Carlyle hires for MENA push * Merrill Lynch to expand Asia financial sponsor coverage * Former ANZ Capital director sets up own firm * SAC hires private equity team * Gulf Finance House reorganises private equity * Oaktree Capital installs Asia chairman * Blackstone opens in Hong Kong

Carlyle hires for MENA push
The Carlyle Group has recruited North African specialist Hassan El-Khatib as a managing director to bolster its newly formed MENA team in Cairo.

El-Khatib was previously a managing partner with investment bank EFG-Hermes Private Equity, where he raised several funds targeting Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. Before this he was a partner at Commercial International Investment Company (CIIC), an Egyptian private equity firm.

El-Khatib will advise on possible Carlyle investments in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Tunisia. Carlyle managing director Walid Musallam said his experience would help the team establish themselves quickly in the region.

Carlyle's MENA team was formed in November last year and has offices in Cairo, Dubai and Istanbul.

Merrill Lynch to expand Asia financial sponsor coverage
Merrill Lynch has made several key appointments in Asia as it looks to cash in on the region's private equity boom.

Richard Gibb and Ajay Sawhney have been made co-heads of its Asia Financial Sponsors group. Gibb will also continue as co-head of the bank's Asia Financial Institutions Group, alongside Michael Tan, while Sawhney will continue as head of the bank's Asia Leverage Finance group.

In addition, Laura Koh, a director and head of debt capital markets for South and Southeast Asia, will join the leverage finance team, reporting to Sawhney.

Lodewijk Meens, who has been credited with kick-starting Merrill Lynch's coverage of financial sponsor clients in Asia, has decided to focus on mergers and acquisitions, according to an internal memorandum.

Former ANZ Capital director sets up own firm
Jeremy Samuel, formerly a director of private equity at ANZ Capital, has established Anacacia Capital, a private equity firm in Sydney, to invest in small to medium enterprises.

Samuel said: “While other private equity firms are focused on larger often public companies where they compete with multiple buyers, Anacacia will look to support management teams acquiring SMEs with profits less than A$10 million per annum.”

The firm is preparing for a mid-year capital raising from institutional investors and “super high net worth individuals and families,” according to a statement.

Samuel previously chaired ANZ's private equity committee, where he managed over A$400 million from the bank's balance sheet and raised over A$100 million from external investors.

SAC hires private equity team
Hedge fund behemoth SAC Capital is preparing to launch an Asia-focused private equity investment platform under the direction of three professionals who worked together at Ripplewood, according to market sources.

SAC has brought on board Peter Berger, who most recently worked for RHJ International, a publicly traded affiliate of New York-based Ripplewood Holdings.

According to a Reuters report, Berger will spearhead a private equity programme alongside two former colleagues, Frank Baker and Jeffrey Hendren.

A separate source said the three will not raise a private equity fund, but rather invest capital from SAC's roughly $12 billion assets under management. The team will mostly focus on Japan and Asia, but will make opportunistic investments in Europe and the US.

Gulf Finance House reorganises private equity
The Islamic investment bank has created a separate private equity division, to be headquartered in London. Joe McGrane will head it. GFH will now operate five separate divisions – private equity, large project development, wealth management, property fund management and asset management. The private equity division will invest in mid-market companies across the UK and expects to invest between £50 and £200 million in each transaction, completing two or three deals each year. Founded in 1999, GFH has about $1 billion under management.

Oaktree Capital installs Asia chairman
Oaktree Capital Management has appointed veteran banker Ralph Parks as its chairman for Asia, as it looks to boost its private equity programme in the region.

Parks is a veteran banker who was most recently chairman and chief executive of JP Morgan's Asia Pacific arm. He was previously a partner at Goldman Sachs and Beacon Group, a New Yorkbased investment firm that was acquired by JP Morgan in 2000.

Parks, who started on February 1st, oversees a team of 16. His role will focus on building relationships with governments, regulators and companies.

Parks is the latest experienced banker in the region to accept a high-profile private equity appointment.

Blackstone opens in Hong Kong
Alternative assets giant The Blackstone Group plans to expand its private equity investment business in the Asia Pacific region through a base in Hong Kong.

The office will be co-led by Antony Leung and Ben Jenkins. Leung was chairman of Asia for JP Morgan before becoming the Financial Secretary of Hong Kong from 2001 to 2003, while Jenkins will relocate to Hong Kong from Blackstone's New York office, where he was a key player in the firm's acquisitions of German chemical company Celanese and US technology group SunGard.

Jenkins, who will become the chairman of Blackstone Greater China, described Asia Pacific as “the most dynamic region in the world.”