May 6, 2018 / 11:13 AM / in 6 months

Dubai's Abraaj to sell Middlesex University in Dubai-sources

DUBAI, May 6 (Reuters) - Dubai’s Abraaj, the private equity firm rocked by a dispute with some investors over how it used their money, is in talks to sell its investment in Middlesex University’s overseas campus in Dubai, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Discussions between Abraaj and the potential buyer are at an advanced stage, said one of the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity due to commercial sensitivities.

Abraaj said it does not comment on market speculation. Middlesex University’s Dubai campus did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Abraaj invested in the Middlesex University campus in January 2017, according to its website. Typically, private equity firms hold assets for at least several years before selling.

Abraaj is facing an investigation by four investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and International Finance Corp (IFC), over the use of some of their money in a $1 billion healthcare fund. The Gates Foundation and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, have declined to comment on the row.

Abraaj, founded in 2002 by Pakistan-born Arif Naqvi, has denied any wrongdoing and is trying to stem the fallout from the dispute. It has shaken up its management, suspended new investments and undertaken a review of its corporate structure.

It is also considering selling some or all of its investment business and has agreed to free up large investors from millions of dollars in capital commitments after deciding to suspend a new fund, which had its first close of $3 billion last year.

The Middlesex University Dubai campus opened in 2005 and has more than 3,000 students, offering a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, according to the university’s website.

The potential exit follows Abraaj’s recent sale of a stake in The Entertainer, a Dubai-based hospitality discount app, to Bahrain-based GFH Financial Group. GFH purchased an 85 percent stake from MVI (MENA Venture Investments) and Abraaj, according to MarketLine. Naqvi is one of the founders of MVI. (Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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