Mubadala Appoints Verno Capital to Advise on Russia

Mubadala Development Co. hired Verno Capital to advise on its co-investment with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said Dimitri Kryukov, the fund’s founder.

The advisory mandate is related to a $2 billion investment fund, which Mubadala, based in Abu Dhabi, set up earlier this year with the RDIF, Kryukov said in an interview in Moscow yesterday. The Russian government established the RDIF in 2011 to lure foreign investment and wean the world’s largest energy supplier of its dependency on commodity exports.

“The RDIF provides government protection to foreign investors and we will be working with them on behalf of Mubadala to provide input and opinion on deals,” said Kryukov, 41. “We are seeing a pickup in interest in Russia from investors across the Gulf eager to diversify their investments.”

Mubadala invested $100 million in 2010 with Verno, the first injection of a sovereign wealth fund from the Middle East in a Russian-focused equity fund. VTB Group, Russia’s second-largest lender, said this year that investors including sovereign wealth funds such as in Qatar agreed to buy all $3.3 billion of new shares in a capital increase.

A Mubadala spokesman, who asked not to be named citing company policy, said the fund will invest in a range of industries with the RDIF, according to an e-mailed statement today.

Verno, which has focused on hedge funds, is hiring a private equity team to oversee Mubadala’s investment with the RDIF. Roman Kudryashov has joined from OAO Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, to head the unit, according to Kryukov.

The firm plans to set up a debt fund by the end of the year, with clients signaling backing for as much as $50 million, according to Kryukov. Elena Kolchina, former debt portfolio manager at Renaissance Asset Managers, will manage the fund.

Verno was set up by Kryukov in late 2009 after his departure from investment firm Kazimir Partners Inc. It has about $230 million under management, he said.

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