Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Latest Invasion of North Africa

The private-equity boom is extending into almost every corner of the globe--even, perhaps, into Colonel Muammar Qaddafi's Libya. Two Libyans with Western investment bank experience, Adel Saudi and Abdulla Boulsien, have set up Tuareg Capital to invest in Libya (and next door in Algeria). "We see a great opportunity to assist in the restructuring of the country," said Saudi, Tuareg's chairman, speaking from his Bahrain office. Saudi hopes to have $30 million raised by yearend and to eventually put together $100 million for investment in health care, oil services, tourism, building materials, and other sectors. The group is getting initial backing from Bahrain-based ASA Consultants and United Gulf Industries.

Through the companies he hopes to set up, Saudi wants to introduce top foreign firms to the Libyan market, now that Qaddafi has handed over his weapons of mass destruction program to the U.S., welcomed back American oil companies, and even brought in Harvard Business School's Michael Porter as an adviser.

For Tuareg, it's still early days. "We're trying to iron everything out," Saudi says. "Libya is not an easy country to do this in, you know."

By Stanley Reed, The McGraw-Hill Companies


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