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Abu Dhabi's state holding firm ADQ hires more bankers as it steps up dealmaking

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Abu Dhabi skyline

(Removes erroneous quotation marks in paragraph 3)

By Saeed Azhar and Davide Barbuscia

DUBAI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi's $110 billion state holding company ADQ has hired scores of investment bankers from Western banks in the past year as it accelerates dealmaking in the United Arab Emirates and overseas, three sources familiar with the matter said.

ADQ, the emirate's third-largest sovereign wealth fund, has hired bankers from mostly foreign banks and investment management firms in recent months, the sources said, boosting its cadre which already had over 20 former executives from Mubadala, another large state investment firm.

"ADQ is very active. They were 20 last year they are now 120," according to a senior investment banker who spoke on condition of anonymity due to commercial sensitivities.

Recent new hires include former Perella Weinberg Partners's banker Ayman Anwar, former HSBC banker Abhay Kumar, who also worked at ADNOC Distribution overseeing M&A, and ex-HSBC investment banker Hassan Abdelhamid, the sources said. The bankers' LinkedIn profiles also showed they had moved to ADQ.

ADQ also brought in ex-Standard Chartered private equity executive Alok Elias in June and former Bank of America Merrill Lynch banker Silvia Barbarino in April.

ADQ did not respond to a Reuters query for comment.

The hiring spree comes as the fund's appetite for deals at home and abroad has been growing and it pursues its objective of monetising some of the state assets through listings.

It recently teamed up with UAE's Aldar Properties in a bid to acquire up to 90% of Egyptian property developer SODIC, which would value SODIC at $453 million.

ADQ was formed in 2018 with a portfolio of key strategic assets such as Abu Dhabi Ports. Over time it has consolidated state assets in industrial and agriculture sectors.

Lately, ADQ has poured money into future listing candidates such as India's e-commerce firm Flipkart and acquired Swiss pharmaceutical company Acino, deals that Mubadala - a larger Abu Dhabi wealth fund - is known for executing. It also bought a stake in commodities trading firm Louis Dreyfus.

Mubadala in 2017 renamed itself to become a focused global investment company, removing the development role from its name, a year before ADQ was formed. ADQ's chief executive Mohamed al-Suwaidi also joined from Mubadala.

"ADQ is indeed looking more like Mubadala every day," said Diego Lopez, managing director of industry data specialist Global SWF.

"Not only is ADQ hiring heavily from its sister organisation (at least 23 staff, including its CEO), but its investment strategy is also very much aligned."

(Reporting by Saeed Azhar and Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)