Arif Naqvi is stepping back from management of Abraaj Group’s fund business as the largest emerging markets private equity firm seeks to restore confidence after claims it had misused investor funds.

Abraaj, founded by Mr Naqvi in 2002, has denied any wrongdoing in the dispute which emerged with four investors in Abraaj’s healthcare fund. But Mr Navqi said now was the appropriate time to bring change to his company, which manages $13.6bn of assets.

“I am handing over the reins of the fund management business to very competent people who will enable the firm to grow to great heights,” he told the Financial Times in an interview. “Allowing me to focus on what I want to do — how to bring private capital to meet the problems of the world.”

The 58-year-old Pakistani national will remain chief executive of Abraaj Holding, the owner of the group. The private equity business — Abraaj Investment Management Ltd — will be split off into a separate entity with its own board, to which audit and compliance will report.

Veteran Abraaj employees, Omar Lodhi and Selcuk Yorganioglu, will become co-chief executives of AIML, the investment management business. Mr Naqvi will remain on its investment committee.

Mr Naqvi, one of the region’s most renowned dealmakers, told staff more than a year ago that he would be stepping aside sometime in the future.

But his departure comes after pressure mounted on the group over a row with investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the UK’s CDC Group and France’s Proparco Group.

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