Middle East Data Insight (Year-End 2018)
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Managers deployed USD516 million in the Middle East in 2018, representing a 102% year-over-year increase. Deal count in the region also improved slightly, rising from 24 deals in 2017 to 26 in 2018. The evolving destinations for Middle Eastern private capital reflect the region’s ambitions to diversify and modernize its economy. The largest disclosed deal of the year was Gulf Capital’s USD267 million investment in Saudi fintech company Geidea—which also represents the largest disclosed non-energy investment recorded by EMPEA in the Middle East. Furthermore, investment in the region’s software & computer services sector climbed to USD127 million through eight deals, largely due to General Atlantic’s USD120 million investment in UAE-based real estate platform PropertyFinder. Despite the burgeoning tech economy, concerns about governance and due diligence in the region may be blunting investors’ enthusiasm for Middle East-focused funds, with only USD91 million raised through two vehicles in 2018. However, a seven-year high of nine disclosed exits in the Middle East could create positive momentum for managers hoping to raise capital in 2019.