KIA might raise its stake in US banks - Emirates24|7

KIA might raise its stake in US banks

KIA has already invested $5bn in Merrill Lynch and Citibank. (AFP)

State-owned Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) is looking at more investments in the financial sector and might consider raising its stakes in US banks Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, its managing director said yesterday.

"We are in Visa and we are already looking into other opportunities," Bader Al Saad said when asked whether KIA might be looking for opportunities in the financial industry, where asset prices have fallen as a result of the credit crisis.

He said KIA might consider increasing its stake in US banks Merrill Lynch and Citigroup after it already invested $5 billion (Dh18.3bn) in the two banks' capital raising efforts in January.

"In Citibank or Merrill, if there is good opportunity, we will look into it. Do we increase our stake? It all depends on the performance and strategy," said Saad when asked whether KIA might raise its stakes in both troubled banks.

Asset prices of banks and financial institution have fallen in industrialised economies as they grapple with the fallout of the credit crisis in the housing sector.

Gulf Arab states and companies, buoyed by record oil prices being paid to the world's largest oil-exporting region, spent about $60bn on foreign assets last year, almost double the previous two years combined.

State-run Abu Dhabi Investment Authority agreed in November to buy $7.5bn of stock in Citigroup.

Saad confirmed KIA, which manages the Gulf Arab state's vast oil-generated assets, invested about $800 million in the initial public offering of US credit card firm Visa Corp.

KIA also reached a deal with British Land where it bought the Willis Building in London for £400m (Dh3bn), said Saad.

"We bought the Willis Building for £400m. It is already concluded," he said.

KIA had at least $213bn of assets under management on March 31, 2007, the latest published figure.