DUBAI Nov 8 Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments, the
top shareholder in Italian bank UniCredit, has lost
its chief financial officer and another top executive, sources
familiar with the matter said.
The move signals the state-owned firm, which recently
divested its stake in German carmaker Daimler, may be
scaling back an investment spree which has seen it take stakes
in high-profile global companies since its inception in 2005.
Brandt Mowry, an executive with a dual role as both chief
financial officer and chief investment officer, left Aabar in
October, three sources said, speaking anonymously because the
matter has not been made public.
General Counsel Alex Iapichino also left the company in
September, one of the sources said. Another executive from the
legal department left as well, the sources said, without
providing her name.
"It's hard to predict the direction in which the firm is
going currently. Most of us will be shooting in the breeze in
assuming the future of Aabar, but the fact is that several
people have left," one source familiar with the firm said.
Aabar is among state-owned sovereign entities in the wealthy
emirate which include names such as Abu Dhabi Investment
Authority (ADIA), considered one of the world's largest, and
Mubadala Development, a shareholder in private equity firm
Carlyle and General Electric.
Aabar, which invested $1 billion in the initial public
offering of commodities giant Glencore last year, did
not respond to calls and an email seeking comment. Its parent,
International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC), also did not
respond to requests for comment.
The sources were not aware if any replacements were planned
for the executives who had left. A property unit of Aabar had
been shedding expatriate jobs as its stepped up a policy of
hiring United Arab Emirates (UAE) nationals, sources told
Reuters in March.
Abu Dhabi, which sits on most of UAE's oil reserves, is
conducting a strategic review of all government entities to
centralise fundraising and improve accountability.
Abu Dhabi government-owned IPIC is the majority shareholder
Mowry, who joined the firm in 2010 from a subsidiary of
Virgin Group, was the go-to person for bankers and investment
professionals pitching deals and investment ideas to the
company, a second source said. Aabar owns about 38 percent of
Mowry had previously worked at companies including Exxon
Mobil Corp and PepsiCo Inc, according to Aabar's
Chief Executive Officer Mohamed al-Husseiny remains in his
role along with Chairman Khadem Abdulla al-Qubaisi, who is also
the chief executive of IPIC.
Other executives, including the business development manager
and a portfolio manager, are still with the firm, the sources
Aabar, which delisted from the Abu Dhabi bourse in 2010,
divested its remaining 3.07 percent stake in Daimler last month.
Aside from participating in the rights issue sale of
UniCredit in the early part of the year, the investment firm has
kept a low profile in 2012, mirroring Abu Dhabi's cautious
investment strategy over the past year.
Aabar raised its stake in major Dubai construction firm
Arabtec to 20.8 percent early this year, after a 2010
attempt to buy majority control ended without a deal.
"We haven't seen them (Aabar) being very active recently but
that said, there has been a general slowdown in Abu Dhabi in the
last year or so with regard to their investments," a senior
banking source said.
In 2011, Aabar bought local bank Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank's
(ADCB) 25-percent stake in Malaysian group RHB Capital
. Parent IPIC took a loan worth an equivalent amount
from ADCB to finance the acquisition.
In February this year, sources told Reuters that Aabar was
exploring a sale of the RHB stake and had engaged in early talks
with Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.
(Editing by Mark Potter)