Istithmar CEO quits

David Jackson, chief executive officer of Dubai World’s private investment business Istithmar World, has resigned just a month after the embattled state-owned conglomerate underlined its support for the company.

The chief executive officer of Istithmar World, the private investment business of troubled ports and real estate conglomerate Dubai World, has quit his position.

In a statement released today, Dubai World said Jackson left “to pursue other opportunities”. He will be replaced on a temporary basis by Andy Watson, currently Istithmar World’s chief investment officer.

Watson, a former Barclays Capital director, has an extensive background within Dubai World, said Aidan Birkett, chief restructuring officer at Dubai World. “His experience will be vital in actively managing the portfolio of assets held by Istithmar World.”

In a nod to the near-term strategy of the business, which is well-known for investments including New York department store Barneys, he added: “Today, Istithmar World is focused on the steady-state management of existing assets to maximise value rather than on private equity investment.”

The news of Jackson’s departure comes a little more than one month after Dubai World, the state-owned ports and real estate conglomerate at the centre of a debt crisis, stated that Istithmar was not part of a comprehensive restructuring process, which included real estate companies Nakheel and Limitless.

In a statement by Dubai World at the time, the firm said it considered Istithmar and certain other of its companies to be on a “stable financial footing”.

Istithmar World recently lost control of the W Union Square Hotel in a foreclosure auction to LEM Mezzanine. The firm originally bought the hotel in 2006 for $285 million.

Istithmar rebranded as Istithmar World in 2008 as it sought to diversify its activities. It is currently split into four separately managed divisions: private equity arm Istithmar World Capital, an aviation unit called Istithmar Aviation, a venture division called Istithmar Ventures and Istithmar World Real Estate.

Istithmar World has deployed more than $3 billion in real estate, consumer, industrial and financial sectors. The firm, established in 2003, manages about $12 billion.