Invest AD eyes China firms for co-investment

The Sheikh Khalifa Bridge in Abu Dhabi. Invest AD seeks partnerships for investment in infrastructure, among other areas, in the Mena region. (EB FILE)

Abu Dhabi Government-owned Invest AD is in talks with a number of state-backed and private investors in China about jointly investing in the Middle East and Africa, a top executive said.

The firm was looking for long-term partnerships with Chinese investors in areas such as infrastructure and financial services, Chief Executive Officer Nazem Fawwaz Al Kudsi said in an interview in Beijing yesterday.

"Recognising China's global importance, it is crucial for us to establish a proper partnership with China in the Mena region," Al Kudsi said, referring to the Middle East and North Africa region where his firm is most active.

China's major state-owned investors include the $300 billion (Dh1.1 trillion) sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange and the National Social Security Fund.

Al Kudsi did not say how much the Abu Dhabi fund was looking to invest in tandem with Chinese firms, nor did he disclose the identity of potential partners.

Growing business ties between China, the world's third-biggest economy, and the oil-rich Middle East provided a lot of scope for the development of investment ties, he added.

Mena, with a huge population, was undergoing a dramatic integration process but had been under-invested in a number of areas, particularly in the infrastructure sector, he said. Chinese companies, traditionally strong in building roads, bridges and railways, could contribute greatly to the construction of a logistics network in the region, he said.

"We think that is only one portion of the exciting opportunities for Chinese know-how and Chinese investment," said Al Kudsi, who spent nearly two decades working for the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

In addition to managing a sovereign wealth fund, Invest AD launched an asset management arm for global investors last year. This new business line was expected to overtake the sovereign wealth fund to account for roughly 60 per cent of total business in five years, Al Kudsi said.

He was also bullish about growth prospects for Mena. The International Monetary Fund has forecast gross domestic product in Mena to grow 4.1 per cent in 2010. "We think this figure is way too conservative," Al Kudsi said.

 

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