Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ held preliminary talks to buy boutique investment bank Lazard, according to people with knowledge of the matter, highlighting the emirate's continued interest in acquiring a major financial institution.
Officials from the emirate's third-largest sovereign wealth fund met their Lazard counterparts several months ago, but the discussions quickly fell apart over differences about the future independence of the 175-year old Wall Street firm, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.
Lazard has a market capitalization of about $3.6 billion and owns an asset management business, which manages about $235 billion of assets globally. Its shares have fallen 7.4% this year.
Representatives for ADQ and Lazard declined to comment. The Financial Times first reported the discussions earlier on Tuesday.
Following a period of higher crude prices, the capital of the United Arab Emirates is keen to use its oil revenues to further diversify its economy and assume a greater role in the global financial sector. ADQ, a conglomerate that owns some of Abu Dhabi's key assets, has in recent years emerged as one of its most active entities. In 2020, it purchased a 45% stake in agricultural trade Louis Dreyfus Company.
The fund's chairman is Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al Nahyan, a powerful royal family member who also chairs the country's largest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC, and its biggest sovereign wealth fund, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
Earlier this year, FAB said it had explored a bid for Standard Chartered but that it no longer planned to make an offer for the British lender. In 2022, it launched an unsolicited bid to buy Egyptian investment bank EFG-Hermes for $1.2 billion. FAB later withdrew its bid for after facing lengthy regulatory delays in Egypt, Bloomberg reported.