Posted on January 17, 2014

A key mergers and acquisitions executive at Qatar Holding, instrumental in some of the fund's most high-profile deals in recent years, has left the firm for a government-related role, banking and industry sources said.

Aziz Aluthman Fakhroo, a Qatari national and a director at the fund's mergers and acquisitions team, left late last year as part of changes at one of the world's most active sovereign wealth funds, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The sources did not reveal which entity Fakhroo had joined but said he would remain based in Doha and would work for a government-related entity. Qatar Holding declined to comment.

Qatar Holding is the direct investment arm of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). With assets estimated by analysts at about $100-200 billion, and over a dozen potential deals on its radar every week, QIA is courted by bankers and politicians around the world.

Under newly appointed Chief Executive Ahmed Al-Sayed, QIA has embarked on an expansion drive, hiring bankers and senior executives with experience ranging from M&A in Asia to retail and luxury investments in Europe.

Fakhroo, said to be in his early 30s, sits on the board of companies such as state-owned telecommunications firm Ooredoo and China's sovereign wealth fund arm CITIC Capital, according to his LinkedIn profile. Qatar Holding owns a stake in CITIC.

"Aziz is undoubtedly one of the brightest financial minds in the country and they must be grooming him for bigger things. He has been the go-to person for us on deals but they have several new people now, and maybe they feel he can be better utilised elsewhere," a senior banker familiar with Fakhroo's move said.

As part of the changes, another senior executive at the fund, Kamel Maamria, an executive director at Qatar Holding who has managed its global portfolio of investments, is set to leave the firm following the appointments of new executives, the sources said.

Qatar Holding declined to comment on Maamria, saying it did not want to comment on individuals at the firm. Attempts to contact Maamria and Fakhroo were unsuccessful.

In recent months, Qatar Holding has hired a veteran Merrill Lynch banker as the new head of its M&A team, an ex-Morgan Stanley Inc executive to run its newly created infrastructure division, a new head for consumer and retail investments, and an Asia head for real estate. The fund also appointed Stefan Frank, previously with Deutsche Bank , as head of strategy.

Qatar Holding has in recent years deployed the tiny country's natural gas wealth to buy a string of high-profile stakes, from German sports car maker Porsche to British bank Barclays and Swiss lender Credit Suisse .

Al-Sayed, known as an effective negotiator and deal maker, took the helm at QIA in July when the newly crowned emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, shook up the investment vehicle as part of adjustments to the Qatari state on his father's abdication.

source: Reuters