Standard Chartered private equity strikes first deal in Middle East

Standard Chartered invests $75 million of mezzanine capital from its private equity arm into Gulf retail store operator Jawad Business Group, signalling an increasing focus on the region.

Standard Chartered private equity has invested $75 million of mezzanine capital in Hassan Mohammed Jawad & Sons, a family-owned private company based in Bahrain, marking the bank’s first proprietary investment in the Middle East.

Hassan Mohammed Jawad & Sons, also known as the Jawad Business Group (JBG), is a diversified mid-market retailer with operations primarily in the markets covered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It has an operating history of more than 50 years.

JBG has built a retail business spanning 660 stores spread across the six GCC countries -- Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman. It also has stores in India and distribution centres in Bahrain and Dubai.

JBG’s main franchises include Accessorize, Monsoon, The White Company, Mango, Bhs, Pumpkin Patch, Hush Puppies, Chili’s, Lakeland, Dairy Queen, Costa Coffee, Burger King and Papa John’s Pizza.

While this is the first proprietary investment by Standard Chartered private equity in the Middle East, the bank has had a working relationship with JBG for 23 years.

"We believe this to be the largest Mena (Middle East and North Africa) corporate mezzanine investment to date and [it] is a strong indication of our belief in the JBG senior management team,” said Taimoor Labib, regional head of Mena private equity at Standard Chartered, in a written statement. “Our investment in JBG demonstrates an ability to participate in all levels of our clients' capital structures. As the proprietary investor for Standard Chartered Bank, we are one of the few organisations in the Mena private equity space capable of executing large ticket transactions across asset classes."

Labib joined Standard Chartered in the middle of last year to head the private equity business for Mena. He was previously head of private equity at Jadwa Investment, a Riyadh-based merchant bank, and has also worked for private equity firm The Carlyle Group and Egyptian bank EFG Hermes.

Standard Chartered private equity is a wholly owned investment arm of Standard Chartered Bank. It has invested in over 40 companies and has a focus on mid- to late-stage companies whose principal operations and management are located in Greater China, Korea, India and Southeast Asia.

Early last year Standard Chartered promoted Vis Shankar to the role of chief executive officer for the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Europe and also gave him a seat on the Standard Chartered group management committee. Shankar took up his new role on May 1. He is based in Dubai and is the senior-most Standard Chartered executive to be based in the Middle East, reporting directly to Peter Sands, Standard Chartered's group CEO. Shankar’s move was widely seen as an indication that the bank was keen to step up its game in the Mena region.

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