The afternoon deal: Speculating on sheikh’s successor

March 31, 2010

A day after the body of a prominent Emerati sheikh killed in a glider crash was found in Morocco, speculation is swirling around who will be tapped to take over his job as chief of one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al-Nahayan ran the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), a fund reported to have assets of between $500 billion and $700 billion. He was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 27th most powerful person in the world in 2009.


He was also the younger brother of Abu Dhabi ruler and United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the man leading the charge to find a successor to head ADIA.

Created in 1976 to manage Abu Dhabi’s bountiful oil proceeds, ADIA has assets ranging from stakes in Citigroup to Britain’s Gatwick airport.

Here are some stories from around the Web on who may soon be in charge of managing those assets:

Abu Dhabi may turn to ruler’s inner family for wealth fund job (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg reports that a succession plan is underway, throwing out some specific suggestions as to who it may be:

“One candidate to succeed him may be Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the owner of English soccer club Manchester City and another half-brother of Sheikh Khalifa, who’s on the board of ADIA and also serves as minister for presidential affairs.”

“Another is Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, the son of the U.A.E. president, who is also on the ADIA board of directors. He was born in 1974 and serves as the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Finance Department.”

Glider death could spark dynastic struggle in Abu Dhabi (Time)

Time spoke with Abu Dhabi expert Christopher M. Davidson, senior lecturer at Durham University and author of Abu Dhabi: Oil and Beyond. He argues that “‘with Sheikh Ahmed out of the picture, the crown prince and his brothers are likely to move on ADIA,’” but they may see some opposition from “elements within the family that may oppose them,
including the President, who may want to place one of his two sons in the role.”

Abu Dhabi sheikh, sovereign fund head, found dead (Reuters)

“‘He is important but his death will not have a huge impact on the power structure within the family,’ said Mustafa Alani, Dubai-based analyst at the Gulf Research Center. ‘Certainly on the question of financial and economic issues, I think he will be missed. Definitely.’”

“Experts expect the leadership role at ADIA to remain within the ruling family. ‘ADIA is essentially a custodian of Abu Dhabi’s wealth, which belongs to the ruling family,’ said Khuram Maqsood, managing director at Emirates Capital.”

Find out more about Sheik Ahmed (Reuters)

(Photo: Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the younger brother of the ruler of Abu Dhabi, who is also president of the United Arab Emirates, is seen in a handout released to Reuters Dubai March 29, 2010, after his plane reportedly crashed into a reservoir 10 km (6 miles) south of the Moroccan capital Rabat on Friday. REUTERS/WAM/Handout)

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