Bisher Barazi, the Chief Financial Officer of Abraaj's private-equity unit, and Matthew McGuire, the unit's Chief Operating Officer, resigned
The departures come mere months following their appointment as part of the private-equity firm’s restructure
Two more senior executives at private-equity firm Abraaj Group have resigned in recent days, people familiar with the matter said, piling new pressure on the embattled former star of Dubai's financial centre, according to Private Equity News.
Bisher Barazi, the Chief Financial Officer of Abraaj's private-equity unit, and Matthew McGuire, the unit's Chief Operating Officer, resigned mere months after they were appointed to their respective roles as part of a wider reorganisation that saw the firm's founder and CEO Arif Naqvi step back from the day-to-day running of the private-equity business.
Neither Barazi nor McGuire are accused of wrongdoing.
The embattled firm is trying to restore investor confidence following a dispute with investors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, over how money in its $1 billion health-care fund was used.
Some of those investors hired a forensic accountant, who found that Abraaj had moved sums of money out of the health-care fund to finance its business rather than buy or develop hospitals and clinics in Africa and Asia as it was intended.
Private Equity News reported that Abraaj declined to comment Tuesday on the departures and the allegations, and Abraaj's spokeswoman has said previously that all funds drawn down from investors in the Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund were either fully utilised or returned.
Abraaj's troubles have rattled the Middle East's top financial center, Dubai, where the firm and Naqvi were among the biggest players. At its height, Abraaj managed $13.6 billion and was among the world's top investors in emerging markets, making investments in companies including ride-sharing app Careem, a competitor to Uber in the Middle East.
Abraaj has recently been in talks to sell its private-equity business in a bid to raise much-needed cash, some of which will be used to pay back investors. Last week the firm informed investors that over $200 million had been taken out of another $1.6 billion fund to help finance Abraaj's business, a person familiar with the matter said.
The firm also told investors last month that it would no longer manage the $1 billion health care fund.
In an email sent to Abraaj staff and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, McGuire said that ‘recent developments' prompted him to resign after accepting the role of COO just over three months ago. McGuire joined Abraaj as a managing director less than a year ago with a view to helping change ‘perceptions' about investing in emerging markets, the email said, reported Private Equity News.
Barazi previously served as COO at the firm before changing roles during the reorganisation. Attempts to reach Barazi were unsuccessful.
Both Barazi and McGuire are among a number of senior executives that have left Abraaj in recent months, including former Impact Investment Chief Sev Vettivetpillai and former Managing Partner Mustapha Abdel-Wadood, Private Equity news reported.