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Tom Barrack's Colony Capital to buy Abraaj private equity funds

Colon Capital's Tom Barrack at the Republican National Convention in 2016.
Colony Capital CEO Tom Barrack, at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Colony Capital has agreed to buy several private equity funds from troubled Abraaj Group, despite having previously passed on buying Abraaj's entire investment management business.

Thought bubble: This is a bit unexpected. Not only because Colony didn't want the larger deal, but also because it's mostly a real estate investment firm that doesn't really have any experience in emerging markets private equity. On the other hand, Colony founder Tom Barrack — a close friend of President Trump — has longstanding business ties to the Middle East, including in UAE.

What's included: Colony buys Abraaj's Saharan Africa, North Africa, Latin America and Turkey funds (both active and legacy), plus Abraaj Holdings' linited partnership stakes in said funds. Staff from eight Abraaj offices go to Colony, although the fate of shared-services employees is still to be determined.

What's not included: Abraaj's controversial healthcare fund, which is said to be headed in some form to restructuring firm AlixPartners. Also not in the deal are some other regional fund assets, including ones focused on Southeast Asia, although Colony will "oversee" those on an interim basis. The holding company itself remains in liquidation, which almost certainly means we'll soon learn what Colony paid.

Go deeper: The swift fall of private equity giant Abraaj

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