UAE's wealth fund eyes shift in investment focus

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Emirates Investment Authority (EIA) plans to shift the focus of future investments from telecoms into financial services, healthcare and education.

Emirates Investment Authority (EIA) plans to shift the focus of future investments from telecoms into financial services, healthcare and education.

The Emirates Investment Authority (EIA), the UAE's only federal sovereign wealth fund, plans to shift the focus of future investments from telecoms into financial services, healthcare and education, its treasury director said.

Set up in 2007, the EIA manages the federal government's stakes in a number of key firms including UAE telecom operators Etisalat and du.

Paul Oliver also said the EIA - which has kept a lower profile than peers like the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), among the world's largest sovereign wealth funds - may issue bonds in the future with any move linked to an investment.

The fund would also be interested in food processing investments, Oliver added.

"The sectors that we're very interested in are financial services," Oliver told reporters on the sidelines of a loans conference in Dubai.

"We're interested in creating a financial services hub in the UAE, and clearly healthcare, education, food in the broader sense like processing."

When asked whether the EIA is looking at any particular assets in Dubai, Oliver declined to comment.

Dubai, which is struggling to emerge from a debt crisis, has said it will sell assets as part of a $26 billion restructuring deal for debt-laden conglomerate Dubai World.

On Monday, Dubai's government took control of troubled Islamic lender Dubai Bank to prevent a collapse undermining the Gulf Arab state's banking sector.

EIA invests in a variety of asset classes, including fixed income, private equity funds, and local equity markets.

Oliver said the fund would try to help develop the financial infrastructure within the UAE towards creation of a local debt market. He said the EIA could be an eventual issuer of bonds itself.

"If we do see an opportunity to issue it would be linked with investment opportunities. But to do something like a bond issue means getting a rating - we're a long way from going down that track," Oliver said.

"In terms of our own funding plans, they will develop over time."

The EIA also has stakes in Bahrain-based Gulf International Bank and United Arab Shipping Company, according to its website.

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