Istithmar opens in New York

The Dubai government-backed private equity firm has opened an office in New York following the opening of a Shanghai office last year. The firm’s high-profile investments in North America have included Cirque du Soleil and Barneys New York.

Dubai government-backed investment firm Istithmar World has opened its second international office in New York.

The investment arm of Dubai World previously opened an office in Shanghai in November 2007.

The New York office is a “natural evolution” of the firm’s presence and asset base in the US and Canada, Dubai World chairman HE Sultan Bin Sulayem said in a statement.

The office will be used as a hub for regional investment activities including further investments in the US and Canada as well as future investment elsewhere in the Americas.

New York: new Istithmar
World office

John Amato and Felix Herlihy will head the new office’s investment team. Both have been chief investment officers of private equity group Istithmar World Capital since 2006.

Istithmar World, formerly known as Istithmar, rebranded itself in January as the group sought to diversify. The firm divided into four separately managed divisions: private equity arm Istithmar World Capital, aviation unit Istithmar Aviation, venture division Istithmar Ventures, and real estate group Istithmar World Real Estate.

Among Istithmar World Real Estate's recent transactions are the purchases of office buildings 450 Lexington Avenue, in New York, and the 340,000-square-foot Adelphi building in London. Istithmar World is wholly owned by Dubai World, which is in turn owned by the government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Established in 2003 with an initial investment pool of $2 billion, Istithmar World now has roughly $12 billion in assets under management.

Istithmar World Capital has participated in a number of high-profile North American transactions. The private equity unit in September teamed with Dubai-backed real estate development company Nakheel to purchase a 20 percent stake in Montreal-based live entertainment company Cirque du Soleil.

In April, the group agreed to acquire a majority stake in US asset manager Gulf Stream Asset Management. Last year, Istithmar purchased a majority stake in high-end department store Barneys New York from Jones Apparel Group for $845 million.