U.S. Firm Is Said to Pursue Dubai Partnership for Mideast Deals

(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. firm led by a former JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker is in talks with the Dubai ruler’s investment company to jointly pursue deals in the Middle East, according to people familiar with the matter.

New York-based boutique Certares, led by veteran banker Michael Gregory O’Hara, has held discussions with Dubai Holding LLC regarding a partnership, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is confidential. The talks may still fall apart, they said.

Representatives for Dubai Holding declined to comment, while Certares didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Certares’ activities in the Middle East have been largely linked with Qatar, the gas-rich country subject to an unprecedented boycott by four countries including the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is one of seven sheikhdoms that make up the U.A.E.

The company has worked with the Qatar Investment Authority in the past, most notably when they both led a group of investors in making a $900 million investment in American Express Co.’s business-travel division in 2014. The U.S. firm has also hired executives from the sovereign wealth fund, the people said.

Certares is also in the race to buy restaurant and nightclub operator Hakkasan Group from its Abu Dhabi owner, people familiar with the matter said Monday.

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