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Petiole Aims to Build Deeper Relationships With Local Networks

Petiole Asset Management CEO Hani Abuali was featured in Finews discussing the company’s “glocal” journey, how leveraging innovation could address real issues of today's private market investors, and where the firm sees near-term opportunities for investment as economies re-emerge from the Covid-19 setback.

His appointment as CEO of Petiole Asset Management in 2020 occurred right in the eye of the pandemic’s second wave in Switzerland. "To stay ahead in this highly competitive landscape, we are leveraging the latest technology to deliver our unique private market offerings to our clients", Hani Abuali says.

Hani Abuali, you have nearly 30 years of experience in finance, most recently in leading the firm’s investment growth in Asia. What led the company to establish its main office in Zurich?

Although we’re newly based in Switzerland, we’ve been investing in Europe across asset classes since 2004, as part of The Family Office Co, our sister company based in Bahrain. Our clients drove us here for all the reasons Zurich is a fantastic place to be based.

Why?

More than just the security, safety, stability, and efficiency of infrastructure, the region boasts a strong ecosystem of young, tech-savvy, future-ready talent vital to our strategy as our business continues to evolve digitally.

We aim to build deeper relationships with local networks of family offices, independent asset managers, and boutique private banks. To stay ahead in this highly competitive landscape, we are leveraging the latest technology to deliver our unique investment offerings to our clients.

Petiole Zurich Office

What’s the level of innovation in Petiole Asset Management?

Our innovation process always begins with the «job to be done». With a 17-year track record in this industry, we are intimately familiar with investors’ struggles with gaining access to top managers, sourcing the best ideas, achieving prudent risk management, accurate reporting, and ensuring transparency and liquidity.

Today’s investors face challenges in maintaining their target allocations and adjusting to market opportunities. These are real pain points we work hard to address for our clients, in this hyper-fast environment where great investment opportunities can open just as quickly as they disappear. We’re nimble in spotting market dislocations and disciplined in carrying out our due diligence.

Once we’ve vetted opportunities, we want our clients to access them easily, conveniently, and with full transparency. For this reason, we recently launched our innovative Petiole App with access to exclusive deals, market insights, and a direct link to our team of experts.

In addition, we are removing inefficiencies from our in-house operations and back office, deploying sophisticated bots for functions that do not require human intervention.

Petiole is well-positioned with key offices in New York, Hong Kong, and now, Zurich. How does this «glocal» approach play in the company’s strategy?

We leverage scale to offer our clients access to privileged investment opportunities. As the largest and deepest capital and private market in the world, the U.S. is a significant part of our portfolios. Following the Global Financial Crisis, we formed a local team in New York to capitalize on dislocations in the U.S. residential real estate market.

The strategy shifted from multi-family to office in private equity, and then to real estate credit as the landscape changed. Through our local team, we are often able to seize opportunities by tapping into market dislocations not just in real estate but also in private debt and buyouts in the U.S.

We have been long-standing believers in the emergence of Asia, not just China, with the firm’s first investments in the region dating back to 2005. We’ve been active not only in private equity, but also in real estate, private credit, and venture capital, particularly with the launch of our 5G and AI Fund in China in 2019 and in co-investments in outstanding companies such as Coupang in South Korea and Allegro Microsystems in Japan. We have also been able to participate in the regulatory arbitrage of the Australian non-banking lending market.

Europe has always been important for our business, but we are relatively under-invested in real estate.

We have had tremendous success in European private equity transactions in which we participated, and we are looking to grow our allocation in the region.

Economies are starting to rise again from the catastrophe of the pandemic. Where do you see near-term opportunities for investments?

We are investing in the dislocations in the aviation industry with opportunities in both credit and equity. We are also seeing a massive dislocation in U.S. financials, especially in the small and mid-market banks.

With COVID-19 accelerating digital transformation across industries we continue to diversify our portfolios with investments in the technology sector, including software and digital marketing in the U.S., and online education and healthcare in China and Australia. We have also identified opportunities for real estate credit in Europe, and liquid credit in the U.S.

How do you set Petiole’s priorities?

We are not trying to be all things to all people – we are focused, disciplined, and agile in our search for investment opportunities for our clients.

This is only possible with the best assets: our experienced team of investment professionals and partners, who help source, execute, monitor, and manage risk on behalf of our clients.

They constitute and collectively fuel the innovative culture of the firm that is responsible for managing $2bn worth of our client's assets. In addition, our Board of Directors comprises seasoned Swiss financial experts and is actively engaged in achieving the firm’s important milestones, such as acquiring our Finma license and the recent launch of our Petiole App.

I’m also pleased to share that Petiole officially became a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) last month.

This is a milestone that exerts a significant impact on how Petiole will move forward.

We believe issues of governance, sustainability, and environmental awareness are no longer a choice, but an imperative.

This positions Petiole Asset Management for success with future investors, and where else better to continue this journey than here in Switzerland?

The original article was published in Finews, in German and in English, on May 25, 2021.
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