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 Audacia Capital, the newly-established investment bank licensed and regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), has launched its operation in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) with paid up capital of around Dh100 million.

Emad Mansour, its founder and CEO, said the bank will capitalise on the region’s growing investment opportunities by targeting $15-50 million (Dh55-183.5 million) deals, focusing on fast growing sectors including healthcare, education, real estate and retail.

To reinforce investor confidence, Audacia will seed investments with its own capital alongside other investors, he added.

The investment bank said in a press statement that it had chosen Dubai as its headquarters because of its robust, world-class regulatory and legal frameworks, and easy access to regional and international cities. The city is also strategically located as a bridge between East and West, whilst also enjoying the reputation of being a widely recognized global investment hub.

Emad Mansour, Founder and CEO, Audacia Capital, said: “The region continues to witness robust economic growth where different countries continue to diversify their economies into non-carbon sectors and encourage entrepreneurship hence creating ample investment opportunities. Our aim is to build Audacia Capital into a fully-fledged investment banking powerhouse in the region by offering world-class investment opportunities and securing attractive rates of return to our shareholders and co-investors.”

Mansour said: “2014 was a big year for M&A and private equity as global deal activity jumped 47 per cent between 2013 and 2014.  These exciting growth conditions prompted us to establish Audacia Capital to capitalise on these opportunities. We have few promising deals in our pipeline and we and are confident that Audacia Capital is well positioned to play a leading role in the investment banking landscape of the region.”

During the past five years, Audacia’s team executed over 20 significant transactions across Mena, Turkey, Africa and UK regions with an aggregate value of more than $1 billion. Mansour has more than 23 years of banking experience in the GCC.

According to Thomson Reuters, Middle East equity and equity-related issuance totalled $11.4 billion in 2014, a 173 per cent increase in activity from 2013 ($4.2 billion).  In spite of this increase in growth, private equity remains a largely under-utilized asset class in the Mena region with potential for further growth particularly in the mid cap segment where access to funds is limited.