Standard Chartered bank is bidding for private equity deals in Asia, the Middle East and Africa after an 18-month hiatus as it looks to benefit from higher yields in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

The bank's Middle East & North Africa Managing Director and regional head of private equity Hossam Shobokshi told Reuters it was focusing on areas including real estate and infrastructure mainly in Asia and the Middle East.

"We are active, but we are disciplined, and we are putting in bids," Shobokshi said on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. "Deals done in the next two years will yield high returns."

Stock markets in the Middle East and North Africa have been hard hit by global turmoil and valuations have dropped.

Private equity funds in the region have $11 billion (7.54 billion pounds) to invest after raising a record $6.4 billion in 2008, the Gulf Venture Capital Association said.

The bank, which is managing a fund with India's Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services, is looking at companies with at least three years of operation and minimum profits of $5 million, Shobokshi said.

"Over the last one and a half years, we have not invested in a single deal," he said. "We looked at 180 deals, (but) did not invest to avoid the speculative valuations in the market. We are here to produce returns."

Standard Chartered has 60 percent of its business in Asia, 20 percent in the Middle East and the rest in Africa, Shobokshi said. "Emerging markets are important for us," he said.

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