July 2, 2018 / 8:16 AM / 16 days ago

Six firms in running to manage $1 bln Abraaj healthcare fund -sources

DUBAI/NEW YORK, July 2 (Reuters) - Colony Capital, TPG and Cerberus Capital Management are among at least six firms vying to run Abraaj’s $1 billion healthcare fund, three sources familiar with the matter said.

Deloitte, the provisional liquidators of Abraaj, and investors in its healthcare funds are weighing these inquiries, which could pave the way for the healthcare fund to separate from the rest of Abraaj, they told Reuters.

How Abraaj used some of the money in the healthcare fund led to a dispute with four investors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Finance Corp.

This triggered months of turmoil at the Middle East and North Africa’s biggest buyout fund, which halted its fund raising activities and shook up its management as it tackled ensuing debt repayment problems.

AlixPartners, which was brought in as a consultant, was initially supposed to take over as an interim manager of the fund after Abraaj offered to step down due to the row.

However, this was delayed when Abraaj Investment Management Ltd was placed in provisional liquidation, they said.

Abraaj, which has denied misusing the funds, reiterated in a statement on Monday that it is working closely and collaboratively with its investors to ensure that the work of the healthcare fund can continue uninterrupted.

Despite the row, investors want to remain invested in the fund, these sources said. The fund had used 44 percent of its capital for investments with a focus on developing healthcare systems across Africa and South Asia.

It had made a total of nine investments that included 25 operating hospitals, 17 clinics and 32 diagnostic centres covering 1.9 million patients, Abraaj said.

TPG, Colony declined to comment, while Cerberus and AlixPartners were not available to comment. The other firms seeking to manage the fund could not immediately be identified.

The row, which began as early as October last year but only became public months later, revolved around why Abraaj did not invest part of the $1 billion healthcare fund in hospitals and clinics, despite drawing on it, the sources said.

Abraaj said this was due to regulatory delays in projects in Africa and Pakistan and that the fund’s terms allowed money to be retained even if an investment was delayed.

Following talks with investors, Abraaj returned the unused capital to them at the end of December, it said.

A summary report for creditors prepared by Deloitte said on June 4 there was no evidence of embezzlement or misappropriation, but highlighted a lack of “adequate governance” and “overall weakness at Abraaj[nL8N1TC0P1

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other investors such as the World Bank’s IFC have declined to comment. (Additional reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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