Sovereign wealth funds and other institutional investors in the Mideast and Asia flush with cash while the rest of the global financial services industry is in a severe shock are attracting top investment talent.
Right now, theyre attracting the caliber of talent that they would not have had the opportunity to pick up had conditions not been as dire, Peter Alexander, founder and principal of asset management consulting firm Z-Ben Advisors Ltd., Shanghai. But regardless of the financial crisis, these organizations would have been looking for people.
One such group is Dubai International Capital LLC, a private equity firm based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with $13 billion in assets under management. DIC is part of Dubai Holding, an investment company owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubais ruler. So far this year, DIC increased its staff to 131 from 87 employees as of Dec. 31, spokesman Mark Lunn said. The move followed a separate announcement by the firm that it plans to double assets under management in the next several years.
Almost all new recruits came from global financial giants in the U.K. and the U.S., including New York-based Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. About 15 were made at the level of managing director, CEO or director, said Philip Donnelly, managing director of human resources at the DIC.
On Nov. 2, Alykhan Nathoo a London-based founding member of private equity company Bain Capital LLC will join the DIC as chief executive officer of emerging markets. Eric Kump, formerly managing director of Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, earlier this month was appointed managing director in the private equity division. Marc Hollander was named finance director in the private equity division; he had been managing director in the private equity division of Investor AB, the Nordic regions largest investment company based in Stockholm.
Another big hiring coup was the summer appointment of David Smoot as managing director in the private equity division. Mr. Smoot is a former managing director and a co-founder of Morgan Stanley Private Equity. He was with the firm for 11 years before moving his family to Dubai from New York.
Even without the economic crisis, the global trend is toward greater opportunities in emerging markets, said Mr. Donnelly, who himself arrived about a year ago from London. He was the European head of human resources at Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Dubai is part of the next wave of financial opportunities globally, Mr. Donnelly added, and thats attractive.
Other Middle Eastern institutions looking west for top-level investment executives are the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the worlds largest sovereign wealth fund. ADIA does not reveal its assets under management, but analysts have estimated total assets range between $650 billion and $900 billion. The Qatar Investment Authority, Doha, with an estimated $60 billion in assets, is searching for investment professionals at all levels. And earlier this year, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, started searching for a chief investment officer for its new endowment fund, with about $10 billion in assets (Pensions & Investments, April 14).
The big sovereign wealth funds are hiring, and theyre not just hiring within the Middle East. Theyre looking globally, said Alex Cormack, director and head of the Middle East at recruitment agency Sheffield Haworth based in Dubai. Theyre looking to instill international standards into their organizations.
Emerging Asia is another region where fund officials have been actively recruiting, according to recruitment agencies and consultants.