Investcorp leads a trio of Bahrain-based investment banks that have made it to Forbes Middle East’s Top 30 Asset Managers ranking for 2024.

Placing second in the list, Investcorp focuses on global alternative investments across private equity, real estate, credit, GP stakes, infrastructure, strategic capital, and insurance asset management.

Founded in 1982, the firm managed over $52.2 billion in assets, including those managed by third parties as of December 2023.

Investcorp has 14 offices in the US, Europe, GCC, and Asia and employs 500 people. In March 2024, the firm led a $130 million pre-IPO investment round in the SaaS e-commerce enablement platform Salla.

Mohammed Alardhi, an Omani national, became executive chairman of Investcorp in 2015. He is also the chairman of the Muscat Stock Exchange and a board member of the international advisory board of The Brookings Institution, the board of trustees of the Eisenhower Fellowships, and the World Economic Forum’s Community of Chairpersons.

Ranking fifth is GFH Financial Group (GFH), a Bahrain-based Islamic investment firm that’s listed on four stock exchanges in the GCC: the Bahrain Bourse, Boursa Kuwait, Dubai Financial Market, and the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

It employs over 145 people and invests in Mena, India, Europe, and the US.

Led by Bahraini national Hisham Alrayes as the group chief executive, GFH Group’s total assets and funds under management increased from $17bn in 2022 to $21bn in 2023.

In October 2023, the group acquired a food services and logistics company valued at $133.3m in Saudi Arabia.

Mr Alrayes has 26 years of industry experience and has been GFH Group CEO since 2007. He is also the chairman of Esterad Investment Company and Khaleeji Commercial Bank.

Rounding out the kingdom’s presence in the exclusive club is Najla Al Shirawi, the chief executive of SICO, in 16th place.

As the only woman in the elite list, Ms Al Shirawi has 27 years of investment banking experience.

She joined SICO in 1997 and assumed her current role in 2014. In 2023, SICO recorded assets under management of $6bn, a 25pc increase compared to 2022. In June 2023, SICO advised the Al Jazeera Tourism Company on its sale of Novotel Al Dana Resort to the Gulf Hotels Group.

In October 2023, SICO launched the Elzaad Sukuk Fund in partnership with the Wafra International Investment Company. Ms Al Shirawi is also a board member of the Bahrain Economic Development Board and the Bahrain Commercial Facilities Company. She is also chairperson for the SICO Funds Services Company and SICO Financial Brokerage in Abu Dhabi.

Rashed Sharif, chief executive of SNB Capital, topped the list, controlling $65.6bn in AUM as of December 2023. SNB Capital was a joint lead manager of the bond issuance of Saudi’s Finance Ministry in 2023.

Ranking third, Alinma Investment’s Mazin Fawaz Baghdadi recorded $22.3bn in assets as of December 2023.

Combined, the 30 asset managers oversaw more than $340bn in assets last year, including local and international equity and debt funds, discretionary portfolios, real estate investments, REITS, and private equity. Individuals were ranked based on their past experiences, key achievements in the last year, and the firm’s total assets under management (AUM).

The list features leaders of both independent asset management firms as well as the investment arms of financial institutions. Of the 30 top asset managers, 16 are from subsidiaries of banks, and 14 head independent asset management firms. Those representing sovereign wealth funds and private or family offices were excluded from the list.

Asset managers from Saudi Arabia – home to the region’s biggest stock exchange – dominate the list with 14 of the 30 entries.

Last year saw asset managers playing a crucial part in debt and sukuk issuances, whether to conglomerates or governments. Al Rajhi Capital served as the sole local bank and joint arranger for the $3.5bn PIF Sukuk issuance. Saudi Fransi Capital was the joint lead manager for the $2bn green and conventional sukuk issuance of Saudi Electricity Company.

In Q4 2023, 19 IPOs raised $4.9bn in proceeds. The ADES Holding Company raised the most funds and contributed 25 per cent of the overall IPO proceeds in Q4, followed by PureHealth Holding with 20pc.

Most of the listing activity occurred in the GCC.


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