From: Reuters
Published December 10, 2007 01:14 AM

Carlyle's Rubenstein says Middle East ripe for deals

DUBAI (Reuters) - Strong gross domestic product growth, a booming population, and surging wealth will fuel private equity deal activity across the Middle East and North Africa, according to Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein.

"Our focus is not so much on our investors, but on transactions," said Rubenstein, when asked what his firm was focused on during his current visit to Dubai. Rubenstein was speaking at Super Return Middle East, a private equity conference here this week.

Washington D.C.-based Carlyle Group is one of the largest private equity firms in the world, with offices across the Middle East.

Western private equity firms are expected to focus more on buying companies and assets in the oil-rich Middle East, as the mergers and acquisitions environment in the United States and Europe has been hit by the subprime mortgage crisis and the credit crunch. The firms are also expected to partner with sovereign wealth funds for deals in the region and abroad.

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Rubenstein said a lack of competition from other private equity firms is one factor that will spur deal making in the MENA region in the near-term, as the area is in its early stages of buyout interest.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Valerie Lee)

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