Samena Capital launched to exploit investment opportunities in high growth Middle East and Asian Markets

15 September 2008
Strong First Close of Samena Special Situations Fund at $200 million
Samena Capital, a new model of collective investing conceived and run by some of the best known entrepreneurs from the Subcontinent, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (SAMENA) today announces its launch, to take advantage of the increasing integration of businesses across these high-growth markets.

Bringing together a group of leading, global business personalities and professional asset managers, the firm has already raised $200 million for its debut Samena Special Situations Fund and targets a $350 million final close by 31 October 2008 after deciding its institutional allocations.

The firm intends to launch further close and open ended funds, has identified and intends to buy stakes in other asset management platforms in India and Japan and will look to "motherfish" and buy quality asset managers across Asia. It has therefore been set up with a capital of US$50 million to pursue its "buy and build" strategy in this direction.

Commenting on the launch, Shirish Saraf, President and founder of Samena Capital said, "The anchor shareholders of Samena Capital are "value-preneurs", who have each created enterprises in excess of US$1 billion over the last ten years. Their business acumen and networks, coupled with the intellectual capabilities and track record of our investment team, makes Samena Capital a unique value proposition. The firm is global in size and scale at the outset and aims to be a catalyst for increasing cross border investment within the SAMENA region. Interestingly, Samena in the old Buddhist script also means "collectively" or "together".

Investors and businesses are increasingly discerning as the global scenario becomes more uncertain. Our model of investment management makes Samena Capital a "preferred partner" for institutional investors seeking exposure to the SAMENA region and for businesses from within these markets looking to expand beyond their own borders. Underscoring investor interest in this proposition and the opportunities Samena Capital will unlock, we are delighted that the Samena Special Situations Fund will be the largest first time independent close ended fund of this asset class and geographical focus."

Mr. Atul Punj, Chairman of Punj Lloyd, one of India's leading engineering construction companies, and Chairman of Samena Capital said, "These are exciting times as transfer of wealth accelerates from West to East creating a host of new opportunities for global investors. Samena Capital is uniquely positioned to be a preferred provider of funding to entrepreneurial businesses and to facilitate quality access and networks for those investors looking to enter the SAMENA region, where markets remain complex and require more active value creation. The unique coupling of top business groups from India, China and the Middle East combined with a world-class asset manager makes us stand out in pedigree and capability and underpins our ability to deliver superior returns."

V-Nee YEH, a founding shareholder and Director of Samena Capital and Honorary Chairman of one of Asia's largest asset management institutions Value Partners Group Limited, and Chairman of Argyle Street Management and Cheetah Investment Management said, "I am excited to be a founding shareholder in Samena Capital. The current environment demands players with a different value proposition, and Samena's business model resonates with the desire of top business leaders and institutions to work together to revive the value proposition of the old silk route."

Samena Capital will be headquartered in Bahrain, its FSA regulated investment advisor has an office in London and intends to establish a presence in Hong Kong, Mumbai and Tokyo before the end of 2008. Among Samena Capital's founding shareholders are: Mr. Shirish Saraf, Mr. Arif M. Naqvi, Mr. Samir J. Fancy, Mr. Ramiz Hasan, Sheikh Ziad Abdul Rahman Al Turki - ATCO Group, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, H. E. Sheikh Nawaf Nasser Bin Khahd Al Thani - NBK Group, Qatar, Sheikh Kamal Bahamdan - Bahamdan Group, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Atul Punj - Punj Lloyd, India, Mr. V-Nee Yeh, Mr. Gratian Anda - IHAG Holdings, Zurich, Mr. Colin Rutherford, and Mr. Simon Wong.


Established in August 2008, Samena Capital is a premier investment management group focussing on principal investments on the Subcontinent, Asia, Middle East and North Africa (Samena region). Samena was created through the collaboration of a group of leading entrepreneurs and investment managers who, through unmatched knowledge of their own markets, offer otherwise unavailable access to local investment opportunities. With its FSA regulated investment advisor based in London, Samena manages investments across its target region through offices in Bahrain, Hong Kong and Mumbai.

Biographies of Directors

Shirish Saraf, President and founder of Samena Capital

Former co-founder and Managing Director of Abraaj Capital from January 2002 to July 2007. During his tenure three of the flagship Abraaj Capital funds provided returns in excess of 30% IRR

Pioneered the Special Opportunities concept at Abraaj Capital and managed the MENA and Sub Continent focused Abraaj Special Opportunities Funds I and II which saw returns of +98% and +55% respectively under his tenure

Founder and Managing Director of Oriel Investments (UAE), which in a short span of time emerged as one of the leading regional corporate finance firms.

Former head of direct equity investment and syndication activity in the Gulf and the Subcontinent at TAIB Bank (Bahrain). Responsible for setting up a US$50 million 'Everest India Fund' as well as establishing TAIB Capital Corporation, the first foreign SEBI approved merchant bank in India.

Has held numerous directorships including Aramex Holdings, Memo Express, Commercial Bank of Oman SAOG and Amwal Capital (Qatar).

Atul Punj

Chairman and founder of Punj Lloyd, India's second largest construction and engineering firm with a market capitalisation in excess of $2 billion

Indian Infrastructure Entrepreneur of the Year for 2007 (Ernst & Young awards)

On the advisory board of GE India

Samir Fancy

Chairman and founder of Renaissance Services SAOG, Oman's premier oil and gas company with a market capitalisation in excess of $1 billion

Was the first family business to go public in the Middle East in the mid-1990s

Nominated for Middle East Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 (Ernst & Young awards)

Nawaf Nasser Bin Khalid Al Thani

Chairman and CEO of Nasser Bin Khalid Holding, Qatar's leading business conglomerate focussing on construction, industrial services, oil & gas, telecommunications, civil engineering, agriculture, real estate, consultancy, fashion and hospitality and automotive sectors

Founder and chairman of Doha Insurance Co - a leading Qatari insurance company

Holds a number of directorships including Qatar Navigation, Al Salam International, Arabtec (UAE), Abraaj Capital, and the Qatari Businessmen Association

On the consulting management board of Deutsche Bank

Ziad Al-Turki

Vice-Chairman of ATCO group, one of Saudi Arabia's premier family groups focussing on construction, marine services, shipping, oil & gas equipment and control systems

Holds a number of other prominent directorships including Honeywell Turki Arabia Limited, Keller-Turk Co Limited, National Air Services and Al Sagr Saudi Insurance Co.

Kamal Bahamdan

CEO of the Bahamdan Group - one of Saudi Arabia's leading family Groups focussing on building investment and operating platforms in telecommunications, education, infrastructure, and industry in the GCC

Co-founder and managing partner of BV Group, a private investment firm operating in real estate, private equity and hedge funds mainly in the U.S., Europe and Asia

Colin Rutherford

Chairman of Midas Capital, a UK Aim listed fund management firm with assets under management in excess of $4 billion

He has been or is currently director of a number of public and private companies including Eurosales Finance PLC, SGI Fund (formerly Circus Capital), Renaissance Services SAOG, Argent Energy ply and Imagine Homes Limited

Founder and Chairman of Rutherford Manson Dowds - one of Scotland's leading accountancy firms

Gratian Anda

Chairman and CEO of IHAG Holding Corp, one of the leading Swiss family owned group of companies with interests in Financial Services, Aviation, Private Equity, Hotels and Real estate.

Chairman of Privatbank IHAG Zurich AG, Chairman of AdNovum Engineering AG (a Swiss software engineering firm) and Vice-Chairman of Pilatus Aircraft (world market leader in the manufacture of single-engine turboprop aircraft).

Rashed Bin Darwish Al Ketbi

Prominent businessman in the UAE, with significant interests in real estate, civil engineering and construction, hotels, resorts, and trading. His family group, Darwish Bin Ahmed and Sons, is one of the oldest and most established business houses in the UAE.

Significant shareholder and board member of Union National Bank (one of the largest banks in the UAE), Al Wathba National insurance Company (a leading listed insurance company in Abu Dhabi), he is owner and chairman of RDK Commercial Investments LLC,

Chairman of Gulf Precast Concrete Company LLC (UAE). He also has served on the board of Abu Dhabi National Hotels Company, Aramex Holdings, Oriel Investment Co., and the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce.


Co-Founder and Honorary Chairman of Value Partners Group Limited - the premier Hong King listed asset management firm focusing on Greater China (and with a market capitalisation of $1.1 billion)

Value Partners is one of Asia's largest hedge funds and manages in excess of $6billion

Chairman of Argyle Street Management - a fund focussing on Asian distressed investing with an AUM of $900 million

Founded Cheetah Investment Management in 2003 that seeds funds focusing on Japan, Korea and China.

Ramiz Hasan, executive director and CIO

14 years of financial investment experience with a particular focus on Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Previously he founded Invicta Investment Management in December 2000, a Japanese focused hedge fund with assets in excess of US$100 million

Previously a portfolio manager at Hermes Pension fund (London), managing in excess of $1 billion.

Simon Wong, executive director responsible for Asia

Partner at Lancea Partners, an FSA regulated private equity, hedge fund and corporate finance boutique since 2005. Between mid-90s and 2004, Simon was involved in setting up CLSA's private equity arm (DIVA) and raised over $200 million from GE Pension Trust.

While at SBC Warburg in the mid-90s, Simon was involved in the launch of the first two private equity funds in mainland China, and brought to market the first four IPOs on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Biographies of investment team

In addition to Shirish Saraf, Ramiz Hasan and Simon Wong the following are members of the investment team:

Robert Clements. Mr Clements is a qualified Chartered Accountant and Chartered Financial Analyst (AIMR). He has over 14 years of investment experience, covering emerging markets including Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. He was a founder and portfolio manager of GEAM, a hedge fund focussing on emerging and frontier markets, which launched in July 2005. Until 2005 Mr Clements was the head of emerging markets at Hermes Pension Fund, where assets under management exceeded US$2 billion. He also worked as a Japanese equities analyst at Orbis.

Celia Farnon. Ms Farnon has 24 years Japan experience and is a fluent Japanese speaker. She started her investment career in 1984 with Citicorp in Tokyo as a pharmaceutical analyst. In 1988 Ms Farnon joined Nomura (Tokyo) as an equity sales person covering institutional clients. In 2001, she joined Polar Capital (a UK listed asset management company) as a fund manager to run their long/short Japan equity fund. This fund's assets rose from US$60m to over US$500m by end of 2007 under her tenure. She was the principal person responsible for fund raising in addition for fund management duties. Ms Farnon resigned in May 2008 from Polar Capital to join Samena Capital.

Swaroop Patel. Mr. Patel has over 15 years of experience in the credit markets, underwriting, structuring and leading new issue transactions. After graduating from Columbia Business School in New York, he started his career with a predecessor firm of the current JPMorgan as an Associate in the investment banking department. He relocated to Hong Kong in 1997 and worked in debt origination in the region for the next 11 years for JPMorgan, ABN Amro and Bank of America. Throughout his time in Hong Kong, Mr. Patel advised and originated transactions for clients in a variety of industries in numerous countries. In his last position with Bank of America, he was responsible for syndicated loans, leveraged finance and debt capital markets in addition to overseeing a US$ 150 million loan trading book.

Philip Young. Mr Young has 19 years investment experience focusing on Japan. He started his investment career with Nikko Securities (London) in 1989 as a warrants trader. In 1995 he joined Fuji Bank in its international finance department and ran a £50 million proprietary trading book for five years. In 2000, Mr Young became a partner of Atherstone Capital Markets Limited which was a corporate finance advisory boutique based in London that identified, created and delivered complex financial contracts between Asian and European corporations, and investors. In 2004 he joined Invicta Investment Management LLP as a Japanese equities analyst. He is currently a Level 2 CFA candidate.