Mark Mobius, known as the "Godfather of Emerging Markets," is joining buyout private equity manager Shatranj Capital Partners as senior adviser to support its founders in growing a new Middle East and Africa fund focused on food and beverage sectors.
The markets are especially appealing against a backdrop of rising oil prices, an increased codification of law, sovereign wealth fund investment in infrastructure and new leadership pushing for economic diversification, said Peter Schatzberg, Dubai-based founder and general partner of Shatranj Capital.
The fund will focus on international and U.S. brands that have never attempted to enter MENA before, as well as on the buyout of marquee brands already operating in the region.
"We identified a structural deficiency in that there were some very iconic franchise F&B brands in this region that were failing to commercialize and scale," Mr. Schatzberg said in an interview.
"There wasn't much correlation between the brand and its success but with who was the local franchisee and operator of the brand," he added. "We decided that a combination of private equity asset management sitting on top of F&B model replicating what we have seen successfully in the U.S. would be a winning combination," he said.
Mr. Schatzberg said Mr. Mobius joined Shatranj Capital as a senior adviser because he is looking for "strong ESG and company culture in his investments, particularly corporate governance, and we believe he sees those attributes in our team" He added: "Mark saw sophisticated individuals actively participating in an emerging market, building genuine local relationships and gaining 'boots on the ground' experience in a sector and acquiring a real understanding of the local market and culture."
The founders are in the process of fundraising but Mr. Schatzberg did not disclose the size of any commitments yet.
Commenting on the MENA region, Mr. Mobius said in a news release: "MENA is poised for long-term and sustainable economic growth, driven by visionary leadership and state sponsored investment in infrastructure. I am witnessing rapid social and economic transformation and more favorable global sentiment."
Mr. Mobius spent more than 30 years at Franklin Templeton Investments and in 2018 launched Mobius Capital Partners.