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RAK Ceramics buyer takes stake in London bank

|By K Raveendran| Samena Capital, which recently completed the purchase of UAE’s global ceramics leader RAK Ceramics, has acquired a significant stake in London-based private banking and corporate advisory Kleinwort Benson Bank. (KBBL) The transaction opens up the possibility of the bank establishing a new global merchant banking operation in Dubai to offer advisory services for corporate in the region.

The transaction is expected to close by the third quarter of 2015, subject to closing conditions, including regulatory approval.

Founded over 200 years ago and headquartered in London, Kleinwort Benson Bank is one of the most prestigious and successful names in merchant banking, providing private wealth, banking, fiduciary and corporate advisory services. KBBL, which holds a full UK banking licence, ended 2014 with £3.4 billion in assets under management.

Samena Capital takes its name from the acronym for the Subcontinent, Asia, Middle East and North Africa. Samena thinks it is ideally placed to drive that pipeline of investment opportunities from across the SAMENA region with its group of shareholder-entrepreneurs, who are actively involved in originating investment ideas and supporting portfolio companies across a $750 million portfolio.

The investment in KBBL creates a complementary third pillar for Samena alongside its established private equity and credit businesses and presents the opportunity to expand its shareholder group and distribution channels given the high-profile European and Asian shareholders of Kleinwort Benson.

KBBL has been evolving rapidly to capture the opportunities presented by fragmentation of the global economy, technological advances and dislocation in the universal banking model as well as seeking to bring proprietary investment opportunities to its significant private banking client base.

The transaction is believed to bring together a group of high net worth, entrepreneurial shareholders from Europe and across the SAMENA markets with a view to advancing their shared desire for a return to relationship-driven banking and access to differentiated investment opportunities.

Shirish Saraf, Founder and Vice Chairman of Samena Capital, says Samena can help to underpin the solid recent progress made by Kleinwort Benson and build out a global operation with a strong focus on the emerging markets.