Christian Bailey has become infamous in recent weeks for his role in helping the Pentagon plant favorable stories about the U.S. military in Iraqi newspapers. But the 30-year-old Brit is doing a lot more than public relations in Iraq. The Lincoln Group, which Bailey co-founded in 2003 with exMarine intelligence officer Paige Craig, has also planned to make private-equity-style infrastructure investments in Iraq, Afghanistan and a multitude of Middle Eastern countries.
The 200-person firm, run by Bailey out of Washington, has seven offices throughout Iraq and has thus far bought a steel-reprocessing center in Basra. The region may be dangerous, Bailey says, but the potential rewards are far greater than those of more-developed markets.
"There is tremendous wealth in the Middle East," he says, "but very little sophisticated financial management and not many private equity firms."
Bailey got his start in business just two years after graduating from Oxford; he created and then sold a customs clearing and settlement company. Later he moved from London to the U.S., eventually settling in Washington, where he co-founded Lincoln Asset Management. The firm, which operates a hedge fund and a fund of hedge funds and is now part of Lincoln Group, is the vehicle through which Bailey invests in the Middle East.
Bailey declines to comment directly about Lincoln Group's advertising and PR efforts in Iraq. (The firm reportedly has a five-year contract with the Pentagon worth up to $100 million.) But he's unrepentant about the group's overall activities. "Wishing alone will not produce a safer world," he says. "Deep cultural understanding, active engagement and targeted, well-managed investments are also needed."