Investcorp Holdings, the largest manager of alternative assets in the Middle East, is considering listing an investment vehicle in Abu Dhabi, in what would be the first initial public offering of its kind in the region.

The Bahrain-based investment firm has begun early preparations with advisors for an initial public offering of an investment vehicle that includes some stakes in its assets, mainly international, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is working on the deal with First Abu Dhabi Bank, Emirates NBD, Goldman Sachs Group, Moelis & Co., and the listing could happen as soon as this year, said the people, who asked not to be identified during a discussion of information that is not public.

Sources said deliberations are still preliminary and details of a possible deal are being worked out. They said Investcorp was also studying other markets for listing. Representatives for Investcorp and the banks declined to comment.

The Middle East is witnessing a boom in listings, fueled by higher oil prices and efforts by governments to sell stakes in government assets to fund a shift away from fossil fuels.

Last year, nearly $23 billion was raised from listings in the region, which is half of all listings in EMEA.

No less than eight companies are expected to be listed in Abu Dhabi this year, according to Sameh Al Qubaisi, director general of economic affairs at the emirate's Department of Economic Development.

Last week, an ADNOC subsidiary in the gas sector claimed the title of the world's largest listing so far this year, when it raised $2.5 billion from its initial public offering.

alternative assets

After more than a decade of explosive growth in alternative assets such as private equity, this type has recently suffered from a scarcity of funding due to rising borrowing costs and falling valuations of portfolio companies.

Goldman's Peterchill unit, which specializes in buying stakes in alternative asset managers, listed an investment vehicle in London in late 2021. The deal raised 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion), but has since lost about half its value.

Investcorp delisted itself from the Bahrain Bourse in 2021 after nearly four decades due to declining trading volumes and a desire to expand faster.

Founded by Nemir Kirdar in 1982, Investcorp's shareholders include some of the richest royals and businessmen in the Middle East.

Under the leadership of CEO Mohamed Al-Ardhi, Investcorp has expanded globally and increased its assets under management to $50 billion. Its business includes private equity, real estate, infrastructure, credit management, strategic capital and absolute return investments.

Originally set up to raise funds from the Gulf to invest in the US and Europe, the company has become more global in recent years, with offices in Beijing, Singapore, Japan and India as it seeks to expand into Asia.

Mubadala Investment Company, Abu Dhabi's sovereign fund, in 2017 acquired a 20% stake in Investcorp, which has backed luxury companies such as Tiffany & Co and Gucci Ltd.