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French insurance company AXA IM Alts expands its global presence with first office in the Middle East

LONDON: French multinational insurance company AXA IM Alts has expanded its global network to the Middle East and opened its first regional office in the United Arab Emirates on Monday. As part of the company’s ambitious plans in this region, it has appointed a Saudi national as the director of the local office, the company announced.
Alternative investment firm AXA IM Alts has opened a new office in the international financial centre of Abu Dhabi, becoming its 16th globally. The firm will focus primarily on raising capital from private and alternative assets, Arab News reported.
AXA IM Alts has appointed Saudi Ammar Bukhamsin as Senior Executive Director, AXA IM Middle East and Co-Head of the MENA Client Group, who will lead the new office with Paris-based Francois Boissin to leverage capital and client service capabilities in the region.

Isabelle Scemama, Global Head of AXA IM Alts, said: “The opening of our new office in Abu Dhabi marks an important milestone in our expansion strategy and underlines the strategic importance of the Middle East in our international growth plans.
“This move represents a natural evolution of our business in the region and paves the way for further successful partnerships with local investors to meet their rapidly changing investment requirements, leveraging the expertise of AXA IM Alts,” she added.

Isabelle Scemama, global director of AXA IM Alts, said the company manages a total of 185 billion euros ($200 billion) on behalf of 600 clients around the world. (Included)

She told Arab News that the division was established in 2020 and has brought together all private assets under one umbrella, managing a total of 185 billion euros ($200 billion) on behalf of 600 clients around the world, with its largest franchise being real estate, alongside alternative credit, infrastructure, impact investing and natural capital, which includes reforestation projects, carbon credit trading, green transport, climate change and energy transition.
“If I look at the capital rate over the last few years, 40 percent has been raised outside Europe and the Middle East has always been an important area… so the idea is that it’s more of a natural evolution and we believe that to serve our clients we need to be present in the region,” she noted.
“We see there is a strong appetite in the region” and see the Middle East as a key partner for European investment, she said, adding that they would coordinate the entire region from their new office, “with the aim of being closer to our clients” through a dedicated local presence.
In terms of development, Scemama said the opening of the new office comes “at a time when there is more and more regulation aimed at reducing the energy intensity of buildings, so this ability to manage assets and independently manage investments in different sectors, we see an opportunity in front of us and we think it is something attractive also for investors from the Middle East.”

Saudi Arabian national Ammar Bukhamsin has been appointed to lead the local office and co-manage the MENA Client Group with newly promoted Francois Boissin. (Included)

She said that the current plan is to work closely with local players, large institutions and people who are present on the market and can help AXA IM Alts get closer to the market and invest with it.
“For now, we really want to be closer to our customers, (but) we have not decided to invest in the region yet, so we may invest capital there someday.
“We are always careful about our ability to deploy at scale, scale is very important in our market – being able to deploy a lot of capital but also diversifying your portfolio requires a lot of size and we know that any time you enter a new jurisdiction you need a lot of knowledge about local regulations, being able to deploy capital and also putting a team together,” Scemama explained.
She added: “We are very keen on aligned interests, whether it’s infrastructure or real estate, (and) we always arrange co-investments and guarantee investors that they will not be treated in parallel, but they will have access to our portfolio and benefit from the co-investment opportunities that we offer, so that is also something that is very attractive to institutions in the region.”
Speaking on Bukhamsin’s appointment, Scemama said he had a long, impressive track record and was well-established in the region as someone who could bring knowledge of the group and its products that would enable it to accelerate very quickly and help open up new opportunities for the company in the long term.
Florence Dard, Global Head of Client Group at AXA IM Alts, said: “Having built strong relationships in the Middle East over many years, opening an office in Abu Dhabi is a natural next step in our strategy to both expand our presence and accelerate the growth of our business in the region.
“As a global leader in the alternative market, we actively engage with a large number of sophisticated investors from the Middle East who are looking for attractive alternative investment opportunities, especially in Europe, where we have a unique source, access and breadth of offerings.”
Arvind Ramamurthy, Head of Market Development at ADGM, said: “Abu Dhabi, also known as the ‘Capital of Capital’, has emerged as a prime destination due to its sophisticated regulatory regimes and abundant investment opportunities. As an asset management firm, we look forward to the diverse expertise and innovative capabilities that AXA IM Alts will bring to the vibrant ADGM ecosystem and the region.”
Before joining AXA IM Alts, Bukhamsin spent more than eight years at French investment banking firm Natixis, including three years as CEO of the firm in Saudi Arabia, while his 20-year career included senior sales positions at Goldman Sachs, UBS and Citi, the firm said.
The company added that Boissin had worked at AXA for the past nine years, first as vice president of investor relations for the AXA Group and then for the past two years in capital raising at AXA IM Alts, part of a 20-year career in finance and sales.

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