Investcorp Holdings, the Middle East’s biggest alternative asset manager, is considering listing an investment vehicle in Abu Dhabi, in what would be the region’s first such initial public offering.

The Bahrain-based investor has started early preparations with advisers for an IPO of the vehicle that would include some stakes in its — mainly international — assets, according to people familiar with the matter. 

The company is working with First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC, Emirates NBD PJSC, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Moelis & Co. on the deal, and a listing could happen as soon as this year, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public.

Deliberations are still preliminary and details of a potential deal are still being finalized, the people said. Investcorp is also considering other venues for the listing, they said. 

Representatives for Investcorp and the banks declined to comment.

The Middle East is in the midst of a listings boom underpinned by high oil prices and governments’ efforts to sell stakes in assets to fund a transition away from fossil fuels. Last year just under $23 billion was raised through listings in the region, accounting for half of all the proceeds in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

At least eight companies are expected to list in Abu Dhabi this year, according to Sameh Al Qubaisi, director general of economic affairs at the emirate’s department of economic development. Last week, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. pulled off the world’s biggest listing so far this year when it raised $2.5 billion from the IPO of its gas business.

Alternative Assets

After more than a decade of extraordinary growth for alternative assets like private equity, the industry has recently struggled with a dearth of financing due to rising borrowing costs and a slump in valuations for portfolio companies.

Goldman’s Petershill unit, which specializes in buying stakes in alternative asset managers, listed an investment vehicle in London in late 2021. The deal raised £1 billion ($1.2 billion), but has since lost about half its value.

Investcorp delisted from the Bahrain stock exchange in 2021 after almost four decades due to low trading volumes and a desire to expand faster.

Founded by Nemir Kirdar in 1982, Investcorp’s shareholders include some of the Middle East’s wealthiest royals and business moguls. Under executive chairman Mohammed Alardhi, Investcorp has expanded internationally and grown its assets under management to $50 billion. Its businesses include private equity, real estate, infrastructure, credit management, strategic capital and absolute return investments. 

Originally established to raise money from the Gulf to invest in the U.S. and Europe, the firm has become more global in recent years. It has offices in Beijing, Singapore, Japan and India as it seeks to expand in Asia.

Abu Dhabi sovereign fund Mubadala Investment Co. in 2017 acquired a 20 percent stake in Investcorp, which has backed luxury firms such as Tiffany & Co. and Gucci Ltd.