Galimzhan Yessenov, one of Kazakhstan’s rising business stars, has launched a private equity fund in Singapore to invest in agricultural projects.

Asadel Partners PEF has been set up by Yessenov and his partner Margulan Seisembayev to develop hydroponic projects and grow fruit and vegetables.

The launch of Asadel is part of a growing focus by the investment community on feeding Asia’s booming population by developing the vast agricultural spaces of Central Asia, including Kazakhstan.

Asadel Partners PEF has made several investments since launching, including acquiring a stake in AO Alel Agro – a poultry producer in Kazakhstan.

Asadel’s co-founder Galimzhan Yessenov is a prominent businessman in Kazakhstan and, at only 38-years old, has amassed a fortune estimated at $500 million by Forbes.

Yessenov made his first move into the agribusiness sector in 2007 with the acquisition of a fertilizer company called Kazphosphate for $120 million.

Yessenov owns a 50% stake in Asadel Partners via a holding company called Fabiano Ltd, which is based in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. The Fabiano stake was previously owned by a Narwal Limited, which invested $40 million into Asadel to launch the Singaporean fund (see Notes to Editors below).

Yessenov’s rapid rise to prominence in Kazakhstan has coincided with his marriage to the daughter of one of Kazakshtan’s most powerful political figures, Akhmetzhan Yessimov.

Yessimov was the minister for agriculture when his son-in-law developed an interest in the agribusiness sector and he is now the chairman of Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund, Samruk Kazyna.

Yessenov has benefited from his father-in-law’s political connections and this has opened up deal-making opportunities in Kazakhstan, including the purchase of ATF Bank in 2012.

The other major shareholder in Asadel is Margulan Seisembayev, a former goat herder who made his fortune at Alliance Bank. Seisembayev owns Asadel through his wife Saule Seisembayeva, who holds a 47.5% stake.

The other shareholder in Asadel Partners is Yerik Sultankulov (2.5%), the former chief executive of Alliance Bank under Seisembayev.

The Singaporean entity is part of a family of Asadel companies set up in the Middle East and Kazakhstan. Asadel means “successful” in Arabic.

Seisembayev announced the launch of the Asadel private equity fund via a posting on Facebook. He said: “The capital of the fund is $100 million plus an option for an additional $100 million in case of full use of the first tranche.”

He announced that the fund’s first deals were the acquisition of a 50% stake in TOO Astana Fruits and TOO Fresh Fruits for $15 million.

The Singaporean fund also acquired a Kazakh sister company, Asadel Parters TOO, for $6.5 million. Asadel Partners TOO was owned by Yessenov’s brother Yerzhan Nurgozhayev. The Singaporean fund also bought a fruit orchard operator called Zhetisu Baktary from Asadel Partners TOO for $9.7 million.

Narwal Limited 

Narwal Limited is a BVI entity incorporated on 20.05.2014 with number 1824669 and redomiciled to Marshall Islands on 04.10.2016. The company’s representative is Timur Orazovich Zhanabayev, a former member of the Supervisory Board of KNG Finance JSC, a former director of Kazphosphate Limited and a former director and shareholder of Pana Insurance JSC. Narwal’s nominee shareholder and director is Lorenzo B. Marquinez of Panama. He holds the shares on behalf of Jorden Finance Foundation and the company’s administrator is Regina Zhenzhera of Interis AG, Lowenstrasse 20, 8001 Zurich.