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Abu Dhabi’s ADQ holds talks to buy Lazard

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Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund ADQ has held detailed talks to take Wall Street investment bank Lazard private, a move that underscores the oil-rich emirate’s ambitions to buy a Western financial services firm.

This year’s talks were between Lazard, led by outgoing chief executive Ken Jacobs, and Sheikh Thanoon, the fund’s chairman and Abu Dhabi’s powerful national security adviser, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. ADQ led by bin Zayed Al Nahyan was held.

The talks broke down after both sides walked away from the agreement. Lazard, known for his consulting practice in Paris, New York and London, has been focused on maintaining operational independence, one of the people added.

“We’ve been talking to people, as you’d expect, but we don’t comment on speculation,” Lazard said. ADQ declined to comment.

A deal would end Lazard’s 175 years of excellence as an independent financial institution that has weathered world wars, dramatic changes in the global economy and tensions between its legendary figures on both sides of the Atlantic.

Rothschild was also valued at 3.7 billion euros after the Rothschild family moved in February to take their investment bank private.And in May, Japan’s Mizuho Agreed to acquire boutique investment bank Greenhill & Co Kick-start its U.S. ambitions with a $550 million price tag.

After the talks, Lazard began the succession process, with Jacobs, who has led the company since 2009, becoming its executive chairman. Peter Orszag, an economist and former official in the Barack Obama administration, will take over October as CEO.

Lazard announced in April, it cuts about 10% Its headcount has shrunk due to a deep cooling in deal activity and the high cost of hiring during the pandemic. Lazard manages approximately $200 billion in assets in a separate segment of its business.

Lazard’s shares have fallen 8% since the start of the year, giving the company a market value of $3.7 billion.

In addition to his national security briefings, Tahnoon has a sprawling business empire spanning government and private interests. He chairs Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the emirate’s main sovereign wealth fund with about $850 billion in assets under management; First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country’s largest bank; and ADQ, the state holding company.

He also chairs International Holding Company, a fast-growing conglomerate whose rise on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange over the past few years has baffled bankers.

In recent years, the emirate has shown a desire to increase its presence in financial services as the capital of the United Arab Emirates has accelerated its plans to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons.

The Financial Times reported in March that Tahnoon had expressed interest in buying the U.K. subsidiary of Silicon Valley Bank, which would eventually become was acquired HSBC is in for a huge sale over the weekend.

FAB made a bold attempt to buy Standard Chartered late last year, but the Abu Dhabi lender said it was no longer evaluating an offer following the leak.fab can be resurrected The approach it took after a cooling-off period ended this summer.

FAB launched an unsuccessful bid in 2022 to acquire a controlling stake in Egyptian regional investment bank EFG Hermes. ADQ has since taken a $911 million stake in Commercial International Bank of Egypt as part of a broader investment plan in the struggling economy of the North African country, a strong ally of the UAE.

ADQ is also partnering with General Atlantic in an attempt to create the largest alternative investment manager in the region, managing private equity, venture capital and credit for ADQ, IHC and another Abu Dhabi fund.

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