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29 February 2024

$100m Sarasin fund to invest in local stocks

Gulf stock markets ended the past week higher by nearly $23 billion despite tensions in the region. (DENNIS B MALLARI)

By Karen Remo-Listana

The $100 million (Dh 367m) GCC fund planned by Dubai-based Sarasin-Alpen and Partners, the asset management company of the Sarasin Group, is for investing in securities and stocks in the region, said Rohit Walia, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of Sarasin-Alpen.

The fund will be closed in the next four to six weeks after its launch within this month and is currently attracting a great amount of interest from the bank's customer base in Europe and the Middle East, Walia said.

"The fund is expected to start at $100m and then we'll take it from there. It will invest in stock indices in the domestic GCC stock markets. We've got a lot of investor interest.

"This time of the market is the best to launch a fund," he added.

A number of analysts have already hinted that now is the good time to pick up stocks. Gulf stock markets seesawed sharply in the beginning of 2009 but ended the week higher by nearly $23 billion despite tensions in the Middle East.

Although some individual markets declined in the first week, strong gains in the UAE and Saudi bourses lifted the combined market capitalisation of the stock exchanges in the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council, according to data released yesterday by the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund, which tracks the share movements in the Arab world's 15 official bourses.

Sarasin-Alpen and Partners is a joint venture between Bank Sarasin-Alpen (ME) of Dubai and Sarasin and Partners of London, two of the international subsidiaries of Bank Sarasin and Co of Basel, Switzerland.

"Sarasin-Alpen and Partners is our third licence here in Dubai International Financial Centre. The other two are Alpen Capital, an investment bank, and Sarasin Alpen, is a private bank," Walia said. "We are also present in Oman. We are the only Swiss bank present there. We are also present in Qatar. In both we have the private bank and investment bank licences."

"We are looking at expanding in India and other GCC states," he said. "It's been on the map but the time frame is not yet put in place. We have expanded so fast that this year we will concentrate on consolidating our positions."

Walia said the bank's growth in the past years have been doubling year on year. And he expects the same rate to continue this year despite the slowing economy.

"We have a very stable customer base, which has made money with us," he said. "We've been here for five years and all our customers have not lost money with us. The trust is a little bit higher than in other institutions."

He said 2008 was a record year for their private banking entity Sarasin-Alpen, thanks to the bank's "conservative" and "prudent" policies. "The private bank has been doing very well, we doubled the revenue in the previous year – primarily because people have not lost money in us. This is a rare thing in this market… you see what happened in other organisations," he said.

"We are a safe bank and we are owned by a lot safer bank. Our majority shareholder is the AAA-rated Dutch Rabobank. Our prudent policies make it safe. We don't have exposures in sub-prime and the likes. Yes, we are a very conservative bank. Boring but very interesting today. Boring becomes a positive word again," Walia added.

Palazzo versace dubai gets $90m loan

Palazzo Versace in Dubai, the renowned fashion project that is said to create the world's first refrigerated beach, has received a $90 million (Dh330m) funding boost, Emirates Business has learned.

"We have closed a $90m loan for Palazzo Versace," Sanjay Vig, Managing Director of Alpen Capital, said. "The hotel expects to get the project completed in December this year or March next year. There were some financing shortfalls primarily on account of bridging. So, based on cash flow budgeting, we have arranged a $90m financing for the company."

Vig said the financing is linked to the project. "Once the project is completed and certain condominium gets sold, the banks would also get repaid," he said.

The Palazzo Versace hotel, a joint venture between Enshaa and the Sunland Group of Australia, was announced in 2005. The project was originally estimated at AUD857m (Dh2.1 billion).

It was reported that the hotel's beach will have a network of pipes beneath the sand containing a coolant that will absorb heat from the surface. The swimming pool will be refrigerated and there are also proposals to install giant blowers to waft a gentle breeze over the beach.

The Palazzo Versace Resort in Dubai is the second Palazzo Versace, the first one being in Australia. The ground breaking of this luxury hotel was attended by supermodel Cindy Crawford in 2007.

Construction is under way on the 130,000 sq m site upon which Palazzo Versace Dubai is being developed. When complete, it will include 215 suites, restaurants, and a day spa, all of which will be furnished with an exclusive line of products from the Versace Home Collection. Suites range in size from 55 sq m to 1,200 sq m for an Imperial Suite, of which there are two. In addition, there are 169 exclusive condominium residences being developed for the resort.