The Mena FM 2011 Power 50 is released

8 Apr 2011
Features, News, Power 50

The second annual Mena FM Power 50 comes at a time when strong industry leadership could not be more important. This year’s list comprises a mix of influential fund managers, investors and service providers who all have vital roles to play in guiding the Mena fund industry through difficult times. Although current conditions spell pessimism across the market, there are more than a few exemplary players in Mena who are sure to continue to drive growth, and many investors remain bullish on Mena as a long-term prospect. Indeed, we have had to increase the list from 40 in 2010 to 50 this year, to accommodate a growing set of top performers, working to world-class standards.

The final 50 are made up of nominations from the Mena FM readership, whittled down by an anonymous judging panel of Mena fund industry insiders. The list was compiled of individuals who have demonstrated innovation, leadership, resilience and transparency throughout the difficult market conditions of the past year. The list is not ranked in order of influence; however, we have highlighted a top 10 sub-list of individuals who are held in particularly high regard across the region. Only one executive per company was permitted, although exceptions were made where a key role was shared. Both the top 10 and remaining 40 are listed in alphabetical order by company.


Naser Nabulsi, founder and executive chairman, Al Mal Capital

Despite another challenging year for the UAE’s fund managers, Naser Nabulsi led his company’s Al Mal UAE Equity Fund to perform 34% above benchmark by the end of 2010. This same fund showed positive growth in January 2010 in one of the first signs of consistent fund recovery in the UAE since the global economic crisis. Since 2005, when it was awarded the first investment company licence from the Central Bank of the UAE in almost 18 years, the company has gone from strength to strength and with plans to expand into new areas in Mena, 2011 looks to be a year in which Al Mal will further cement its place in the regional fund space.

Karim Nehma and Kashif Siddiqui, co-heads of asset management, EFG Hermes

One of the leading investment banks in the Middle East, EFG Hermes firm has 13 offices across the region and employs more than 800 staff. Folllowing the departure of Hashem Montasser in December 2010, Nehma and Siddiqui have a hard act to follow. However, a strong regional portfolio and wealth of combined experience bode well. Nehma has been with EFG Hermes Asset Management since 2004 and as well as overseeing its investment team and long-only mandates, he is portfolio manager for the company’s flagship, MENA Fund. Siddiqui joined the company’s asset management arm from its private equity division last year and now co-chairs the investment committee. Together, the pair are responsible for a suite of top-performing funds, including the Mena FM Performance Award-winning El Massy Fund and Credit Agricole II Money Market Fund.

Deon Vernooy, head of asset management, Emirates NBD

Head of the asset management arm of the UAE’s biggest name in banking, Vernooy has secured the company’s position as one of the top asset managers in the UAE. Over the past year, Vernooy has expanded the brand by launching the Global Sukuk Fund. A range of Islamic, fixed-income and equities products have helped the company maintain an approximate AUM of $1.6bn. With Europe-wide expansion planned, it could become a global player before long.

Maha Al-Ghunaim, managing director, Global Investment House

A stalwart of the Kuwaiti fund management space, Al-Ghunaim co-founded Global Investment House in 1998 and has overseen its growth into one of the largest asset managers not only in Kuwait but also in Mena. Global’s award-winning Global 10 Large Cap Index Fund has outperformed its benchmark by 76.5% since inception, with a current AUM of KWD88.6m ($320m). As of 31 December 2010, the company’s total AUM stood at $5.1bn, placing it in a strong position to resolve its outstanding debt problems ahead of schedule.

Osamah Shaker, managing director and head of investments, HSBC Saudi Arabia

An investment banking joint venture between global heavyweight HSBC and Saudi-based SABB, HSBC Saudi Arabia is a big fish in a big pond. At the head of its fund business is Shaker, who started out at the company in 1998 as an equity research manager and worked his way up to become one of the company’s most highly respected senior executives. Shaker has helped win the company a reputation for client consideration, ensuring that investors with different risk profiles are able to select a fund that matches their investment needs. HSBC’s Amanah Multi-Assets Growth Fund won Fund of Funds of the Year at the Mena FM Performance Awards, while the HSBC Amanah Saudi Industrial Companies Fund came top of the Sector Fund of the Year category.

Farah Foustok, CEO of ING Investment Management (Middle East)

Shortly after becoming head of ING’s investment business, Foustok launched the ING (L) Invest Middle East and North Africa fund, which saw AUM grow to more than $90m by the end of 2010, with 12-month returns of 20.46%. This success is unsurprising, given Foustok’s 18 years’ experience in the market, during which time she managed approximately $2bn as head of asset management at NBD Investment Bank. A well-respected member of Mena’s fund industry; ING has been a strong advocate of bringing world-class fund infrastructure to the region.

Fadi Tabbara, CIO and head of asset management, Jadwa Investment

Tabbara was instrumental in establishing Jadwa Investment in 2007, and has been a crucial element of its business ever since. Through a first-of-its-kind joint venture with Russell Investments, Tabbara helped to establish the Russell-Jadwa Shariah Index. The company is fast becoming a byword for Islamic finance in the Mena region, a success that is reflected in its strong balance sheets. Over the past few years, Tabbara has grown the company’s AUM to $1.9bn and launched a number of funds including the Jawda GCC Equity Fund, which was named GCC Equity Fund of the Year at this year’s Mena FM Performance Awards.

Abdul Kadir Hussain, CEO, Mashreq Capital

Hussain has 21 years’ experience in the fund management business and has been head of asset management at Mashreq, managing all fixed income investment, since 2006. A triple winner at the 2011 Mena FM Performance Awards, Mashreq, a household name in the UAE market, demonstrated exceptional fund resilience in 2010 under the leadership of Hussain. Posting an end-of-year AUM of AED84.8bn ($23bn), the company has been served well by robust performances from its key Al-Islami Income and Makaseb Income funds, which saw 2010 returns of 8.98% and 11.83% respectively.

Jawdat Al-Halabi, CEO of NCB Capital

Jawdat Al-Halabi was the deserving winner of Mena FM’s Individual Achievement Award earlier this year. Following 26 years’ experience across the Mena fund sector, he is responsible for NCB Capital’s impressive $12.4bn AUM. Since becoming CEO last year, Al-Halabi has prioritised discretionary portfolio management, winning 19 mandates from institutional and retail clients and raising the company’s AUM by 19% across 2010. According to the Tadawul, NCB Capital owned a 37% share of Saudi mutual funds by September 2010. Meanwhile, the company’s AlAhli suite of funds performed well throughout the past year, winning the company Mena FM’s Saudi Asset Manager of the Year award.

Anthony Mallis, CEO of SICO

CEO of Bahrain’s largest asset manager for the past 10 years, Anthony Mallis spearheaded the company’s transition from a domestic player to a regional contender. Mallis’s conservative approach saw SICO’s AUM recover to $540m in 2010, up from $400m the previous year, and he is optimistic about future growth. The company’s top-performing Arab Financial Fund won both Mena Equity Fund of the Year and Specialist Fund of the Year at the recent Mena FM Performance Awards, having performed at 15.6% above its benchmark across 2010. In January, the fund produced a 2.2% return, despite growing regional unrest.


H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nehayan, managing director, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA)

Rumoured to be worth more than $1trn, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, benefitting from the emirate’s vast resources of oil. It invests both domestically and abroad, with allocations decided by an investment committee headed by H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nehayan. ADIA’s strategy includes a remit to manage a diverse portfolio across more than two dozen asset classes and sub-categories, including quoted equities, fixed income, real estate, private equity, alternatives and infrastructure. Between 15% and 25% will be invested in emerging markets, including Mena, on an annual basis.

Matein Khalid, head of capital markets and advisor to the chairman, Bin Zayed Group

A respected character in the Mena region, Khalid is also hugely influential through his joint roles as head of capital markets at Mena family office, Bin Zayed Group, and CIO of Salama, the world’s largest listed (takaful) Islamic insurance company. He is responsible for the family office’s hedge fund and private equities portfolios and external fund manager selection, and advises the chairman on investment banking relationships, financing and new issues in the international debt markets and M&A deal flow. Khalid’s frequent editorial and speaking assignments make his one of the most recognisable investment voices in the Mena region.

Walid Musallam, managing director, Carlyle Group Mena

One of the world’s most prolific private equity investors, the Carlyle Group made headlines when it won a licence to manage funds in the DIFC earlier this year, and launched its Carlyle MENA Investment Advisers fund, in collaboration with the firm’s existing regional fund, Carlyle MENA Partners. Prior to joining Carlyle, Musallam was CEO of Abu Dhabi Investment Company, and president and CEO of Middle East Capital Group, a regional investment banking and private equity firm based in Beirut. With a strong team based across the Mena region, Carlyle’s regional activities will be watched with much interest over the coming year.

Mark Mobius, executive chairman, Templeton Emerging Markets

Arguably the world’s best-known emerging markets specialist, Mobius is renowned for his views on Mena and beyond. With more than 30 years’ experience in global emerging markets, Mobius currently directs the Templeton research team based in 15 global emerging markets offices and manages the company’s emerging markets portfolios, including its Mena activities. The Franklin Mena Fund invests across the region, with AUM of approximately $109.84m. An influential voice in the market, Mobius was one of the first investors to shout ‘buy’ in the early days of the ongoing Mena political crises.

Pascal Duval, executive managing director (EMEA), Russell Investments

Following more than 30 years’ experience in the Mena region, Russell Investments has big plans for Mena under Duval’s watch. The firm is planning to increase its Mena presence to the tune of $5-10bn through as series of new fund launches, and up to $20bn including consultancy and fiduciary management services. Russell has also promised to create a Mena-specific index in the next 12 months. Existing partnerships with Saudi Arabia’s Jadwa and Dubai’s Rayan Asset Management mean Russell is already a familiar name to local fund managers.


Tarek Sakka, founder and CEO, Ajeej Capital

Now a long-only manager with the alternative investment management company Ajeej, Sakka has worked with most of the Mena region’s leading fund managers in his career to date.

Qutaiba Al-Hawamdeh, head of asset management, Al Arabi Investment Group

Heads up one of the most established fund managers in Jordan, offering corporate finance, asset management, brokerage and equity research services to clients across the Levant.

Gaurav Shah, CEO, Al Rajhi Capital

Since his appointment as CEO in November 2010, Shah has already launched the Al Rahji Saudi Equity Fund. He is now looking to grow the company’s reputation and SAR15bn ($5bn) AUM.

Amin El-Kholy, executive director asset management, Arqaam Capital

A well-respected asset manager with a long track record in the region, El-Kholy manages one of the region’s few hedge funds, the Arqaam Capital Alpha Fund.

Ammar Bakheet, head of asset management, Audi Capital

Manager of the top-performing Al Safwa Saudi Index Fund, the Arabian Opportunities Fund and Saudi Index Fund, Audi is committed to its domestic market.

S R Krishnan, head of asset management, Bank Muscat

A stand-out asset manager in Oman’s young market, with more than 13 years’ experience and approximately $800m AUM.

Ghadir Abu Leil-Cooper, head of EMEA equities, Barings Asset Management

London-based, but committed to Mena, Leil-Cooper launched the Baring MENA Fund in March 2010. She has predicted attractive valuations across Mena in 2011.

Wael Mahgary, head of asset management, Beltone Asset Management

One of the largest private equity specialists in Mena, Mahgary hopes to lead Egypt’s Beltone through choppy waters this year.

Michel Chikhani, head of asset management, BlomInvest

Lauded for his conservative management style, Chikhani has presided over BlomInvest’s expansion across the Levant and plans to consolidate its Saudi business in 2011.

Richard Lepère, CEO, CAAM Saudi Fransi

Exclusively focused on asset management, CAAM Saudi Fransi is a joint venture between Banque Saudi Fransi and Amundi Asset Management, headed by Lepère.

HE Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman, Dubai Multi-Commodoties Centre Authority (DMCCA)

Head of the Islamic alternatives specialist whose DSAM Kauthur Gold Fund won Outstanding Performance & Innovation Award for the second year running at the Mena FM Performance Awards.

Hedi Ben Mlouka, CEO, Duet Mena

Heading up the Duet Group’s Mena business, Ben Mlouka has brought a hedge fund mentality to the Mena region. Prior to Duet, he was a director at Merrill Lynch in London.

Adeeb Al Sowailim, CEO, Falcom Financial Services

Falcom has launched two ETFs in the past year, showcasing Al Sowailim’s commitment to innovation in the Mena fund sector.

Haissam Arabi, CEO, Gulfmena Alternative Investments

CEO of one of Mena’s fastest-growing hedge funds, Arabi has an excellent reputation. A long-only fund launch this month signifies a new strategy for the fund manager.

Mohamed Al-Hashemi, CEO of asset management, Invest AD

Al-Hashemi has spearheaded Invest AD’s move towards frontier equities, launching the company’s Libya and Iraq funds over the past year.

Manaf Alhajeri, CEO, Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz)

Alhajeri has presided over a good year for Markaz, which saw its AUM reach KWD1.03bn ($3.64bn) by the end of 2010.

Alan Durrant, CIO, National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) Asset Management Group

A key decision-maker at one of Abu Dhabi’s wealthiest asset managers. In March 2010, the company launched the region’s first ETF, the NBAD OneShare Dow Jones UAE 25 ETF.

Nadi Bargouti, head of asset management, Shuaa Capital

Since taking over as Shuaa’s head of asset management, Bargouti has established a clear strategy aimed at refocusing the embattled company’s business and growing its AUM to pre-crisis levels.

Zin Bekkali, CEO and founder, Silk Invest

Bekkali co-founded Silk Invest in 2008, focusing on Africa and the Middle East. The company’s Silk African Lions Fund showed 22.64% returns in 2010.

Walid Hayeck, head of asset management, The National Investor (TNI)

An up-and-coming player in the Dubai market, Hayeck manages the company’s five existing funds across the private equity, real estate and equities sectors.

Nabil Maroof, managing director of asset management, NBK Capital

Headed by Maroof, NBK Capital’s leading regional asset management platform manages a host of investment vehicles including Mena equities.

Ajay Kumar, Head of asset management, Qatar National Bank (QNB)

Responsible for the asset management arm of Qatar’s largest bank, Kumar presides over the company’s flagship Al Watani funds.

Eric Swats, head of asset management, Rasmala Investments

Head of Rasmala’s asset management business since 2003, Swats is responsible for bringing consistent returns to the firm’s portfolio in rocky times.

Radi S. Al-Haddad, CEO, SAIB BNP Paribas

An emerging force in the competitive Saudi market, SAIB BNP Paribas is strong on research and Islamic finance, under the qualified leadership of Al-Haddad.

Habib Oueijan, managing director, head of Mena investment, Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) Asset Management

Previously head of Mena at Majid Al Futtaim Asset Management, Oueijan took most of his team when he moved to UBP’s Mena equities business earlier this year.


Nick Smith, Partner, Allen & Overy

Chair of the DFSA Market Practitioners Panel which reviewed the DIFC’s Collective Investment Funds regime, Smith also heads up Allen & Overy’s investment funds team.

Lynette Brown, partner, Al Tamimi

A prominent legal voice in the financial services sector and member of Smith’s DFSA panel, Brown is involved in all areas of Al Tamimi’s banking and finance practice, both conventional and Islamic.

Craig Roberts, CEO, Apex Fund Administrators

A visible player the GCC’s fund industry, Roberts’ opinion is highly sought after. Roberts was also a member of the DFSA’s Market Practitioner Panel.

Fawaz ElMalki, associate, Conyers Dill & Pearman

ElMalki represents countless funds in his capacity as an investment specialist. Areas of expertise include private equity funds, real estate funds, infrastructure funds and hedge funds.

Arindam Das, head of Middle East and Africa, HSBC Securities Services

A multi-service provider, Das has spearheaded the company’s move into Iraq, the first sub-custody arrangement of its kind.

Valerie Mantot, attorney, Loyens & Loeff

Mantot is a member of the investment management practice, playing a key role in structuring investment funds with a focus on the Mena region.

Tahir Jawed, partner, Maples

Jawed already has a wealth of experience in the emerging sukuk marketplace, and Islamic finance in general. He advised on the first REIT and is also involved with private equity and property funds.

Jim Leggate, executive director MSCI Barra

Now based in London, Leggate continues to oversee MSCI’s Mena business and is expected to give the green light to emerging market status for the UAE and possibly Qatar in the near future.

Charbel Azzi, head of client coverage, Middle East and Africa, S&P Indices

Azzi is at the helm of a spate of index activity across the Mena region as he seeks to grow S&P’s influence as a benchmarking instrument.

Roberto Demartini, associate director, Standard & Poor’s Fund Services

A Standard & Poor’s fund rating can make or break a fund manager, and Demartini’s fund analyses on many of the region’s leading funds are highly valued.