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Abraaj Capital to buy Riyada Ventures, focus on SME investments

24 Nov 2009

Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital has agreed to acquire all of Riyada Ventures as it moves into the venture capital space.

Riyada Ventures, which was set up in the Jordanian capital of Amman in 2005, will be integrated by Abraaj into its newly launched regional SME and entrepreneurship initiative. Khaldoon Tabaza will continue as the CEO of the new business line of Abraaj.

Tabaza has worked in the MENA venture capital industry since 2000, prior to which he set up several entrepreneurial ventures.

Abraaj has previously invested in the SME space, having backed Maktoob.com, an Arab language portal recently acquired by Yahoo!. It also invested in Arabtec, Aramex and Amwal at the early stages of their growth stories.

The MENA-focused private equity firm will allocate a portion of the funds it raises for SME investments for philanthropic uses by partnering with sustainable development funds.

Founder and CEO of Abraaj, Arif Naqvi, said, “We are delighted to welcome Khaldoon and his team at Riyada Ventures into the Abraaj group, to spearhead our regional enterprise development initiative. Abraaj is committed to creating the region’s largest dedicated platform to support entrepreneurship and innovation within the high-growth economies of the MENA region.”

Earlier this week Abraaj raised $375m in a rights issue, which the firm says will put it in a position to capitalise on strategic buy-out opportunities. The fundraising, which was fully subscribed by existing shareholders, increases Abraaj’s paid-in capital to $1.5bn.

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