Amid Debt Crisis, David Jackson of Dubai World’s Istithmar Resigns

Jackson's resignation comes as the investment company struggles to renegotiate about $22 billion of debt.

(January 21, 2010) — David Jackson has resigned as CEO of Istithmar World and was replaced by the company’s chief investment officer, Andy Watson.Watson, previously a director with Barclays Capital, assumes his new role immediately.


Dubai World said Jackson had left the company to “pursue other opportunities.” His resignation comes as the troubled government-owned conglomerate grapples to renegotiate about $22 billion of debt. 


“Today, Istithmar World is focused on the steady-state management of existing assets to maximize value rather than on private equity investment,” Dubai World Chief Restructuring Officer Aidan Birkett said in a statement, according to The Wall Street Journal.


Jackson, a Wall Street veteran, joined the private equity unit Istithmar World in 2003 as its chief investment officer, earning a position as chief executive in 2006. Since 2003, Istithmar World has spent nearly $20 billion on a range of investments, using less than $3 billion in cash and the remaining in borrowed capital, The Wall Street Journal reported. Some of Istithmar World’s investments made under Jackson’s guidance include deals for Perella Weinberg Partners and Cirque du Soleil.


While at Dubai World, Jackson was instrumental in elevating the reputation and image of the company, with investments like the $942.3 million purchase of the upscale retailer Barneys New York. Other high-end property acquisitions under Jackson’s leadership included Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Fontainebleau Hotel, site of the James Bond “Goldfinger” film.
Jackson’s exit from Dubai World reflects a trend of high-profile executives departing from Dubai’s top corporations as the emirate deals with the blows of the financial crisis.