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UAE fund’s plan to take Lazard private falls apart

UAE Abu Dhabi financial centre Unsplash/Kamil Rogalinski
ADQ began in 2018 as a holding company for government assets and has been consolidating its portfolio, privatising some assets and making strategic acquisitions

Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund ADQ held a discussion with US investment bank Lazard Ltd to take it private earlier this year, but the talks fell apart, the Financial Times reported.

The meetings were held between New York Stock Exchange-listed Lazard’s outgoing chief executive, Ken Jacobs, and ADQ’s chair Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the newspaper reported, citing informed sources.

Both sides walked away from a deal, the sources said.

Shares in Lazard have slipped 8 percent since the start of the year, giving the Wall Street investment bank a market value of $3.7 billion.

Sovereign wealth fund tracker Global SWF in October estimated ADQ’s assets under management at $157 billion.

The smallest of Abu Dhabi’s three main sovereign wealth funds has emerged as one of the region’s most active dealmakers.

ADQ began in 2018 as a holding company for government assets and has been consolidating its portfolio, privatising some assets and making strategic acquisitions.

Lazard in April reported a first-quarter 2023 net loss of $22 million compared to a net income of $114 million last year.

“The first quarter was marked by economic uncertainty and market turmoil, particularly in the financial sector,” Jacobs said in the bank’s first quarter financial report. 

“Slower merger and acquisition activity resulted in significantly lower revenues in the quarter and the outlook for the year remains uncertain,” he added.

The investment bank operates in 43 cities across 26 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

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