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$33bn hedge fund hails ‘unprecedented opportunity’ in GCC

Brevan Howard hedge fund Abu Dhabi GCC Shutterstock/Sorbis
Brevan Howard sees an unprecedented opportunity for growth as Abu Dhabi Global Market increases in importance as a financial centre
  • Brevan Howard to employ 100 Abu Dhabi staff
  • ADGM and DIFC attracting hedge funds
  • GCC asset management to grow to $500bn

Brevan Howard, a global alternative investment manager with more than $33 billion in assets under management, has appointed its first Middle East-based CEO as it sees an “unprecedented” opportunity for growth in the region.

Oualid Lahsini has been appointed six months after the Jersey-based company announced the opening of an office in Abu Dhabi. The hiring is part of a commitment that has also led to the relocation of founding partner Trifon Natsis and chief compliance officer Ryan Taylor to the UAE capital.

Lahsini told AGBI: “We believe the time is right to expand as Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is on its way to becoming one of the world’s leading international financial centres.” 

New research from Strategy& shows the asset management market in the GCC is projected to reach nearly $500 billion in onshore assets by 2026, a leap from $400 billion at the end of 2022.

Historically, high-net-worth individuals and family offices have favoured offshore opportunities – estimated at more than 70 percent – but supportive regulatory reforms are making onshore options more appealing, said Jorge Camarate, partner at Strategy& Middle East.

Brevan Howard manages assets for institutional investors worldwide, including sovereign wealth funds, corporate and public pension plans, foundations and endowments. It said its Abu Dhabi base is an “important global hub with tremendous potential to grow”.

Experts say the UAE is fast emerging as an attractive alternative to traditional investment centres, such as London and New York, and more than 200 hedge funds – a type of alternative investment vehicle – are already present.

In February, Brevan Howard announced its Middle East regional hub, located at the Al Sarab Tower in ADGM. It will accommodate more than 100 employees across portfolio management, research, trading, risk, operations, client services, business development, compliance, and technology. 

The Abu Dhabi office complements the company’s bases in London, New York and Geneva.

Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta, non-executive director GCC, Israel & India boards at Apex Group, a global financial services provider, added: “While other jurisdictions such as New York and London will continue to be important hubs, the confluence of factors make the UAE a particularly attractive jurisdiction for managers over the next three to five years.”