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Sun 29 Apr 2007 12:00 AM

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From the Gulf and beyond

With billions of dollars in available funds, Abu Dhabi has made huge ripples in the global investment scene.

The number of investment companies in Abu Dhabi is growing as various new projects continue to arise. One of the first and biggest of these companies is government-owned Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) founded in 1976. The investment body manages all of the Abu Dhabi government's oil revenues and assets all around the world and is one of the wealthiest players in the global market, ranked the world's second largest institutional investor, after the Bank of Japan, with a size of US$200bn and an investment fund rumored to be US$500bn, according to Oxford Business Group. It also manages Abu Dhabi's excess oil reserves estimated at US$500bn. The authority also owns Abu Dhabi Investment Company (ADIC).

The most intriguing aspect surrounding ADIA is its evasion of publicity. The authority is one of the most shielded investment entities in the world: It seldom reveals figures related to its operations, throughout its 30-year existence, it has never publicly announced the amount of assets it has under management, however, the authority's influence in the markets is a subject of envy to many with its unmatched access to the best strategists and advisers.

Mubadala Development Company is another wholly owned investment vehicle of the government of Abu Dhabi. Established in October 2002 as a public joint stock company, Mubadala operates to establish new companies and strategically acquire stakes in existing companies both in the UAE and abroad. Through partnerships with local, regional, and international investors, Mubadala seeks to generate sustainable economic benefits for the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

It is set to invest in a variety of sectors including energy, utilities, real estate, public-private partnerships and basic industries and services.

Some of Mubadala's key investments in the region include Aldar Properties (5%), Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (100%), Abu Dhabi Terminals (100%), Dolphin Energy (51%), du (20%), Emirates Aluminium (50%) and Tabreed (5%).

Mubadala's international investment portfolio includes Dutch fleet management giant LeasePlan Corporation (25% stake), a stake in nine oil exploration blocks in Libya, stakes in Swiss aircraft and engine services provider SR Technics (40%), Italian luxury car manufacturer Ferrari (5%), and Piaggio Aero Industries (35%).

Most recently, the company has signed an agreement with MGM Mirage, one of the world's premier hospitality companies, to create a new company to develop luxury non-gaming hotels and resorts globally starting with Abu Dhabi and Las Vegas. The joint venture company is set to develop its own hotel management platform and distinctive hotel brands as well as utilise one or more of the powerful MGM Mirage brands. Mubadala, MGM Mirage and the new venture will provide management and development services for the planned properties.

Another investment entity in Abu Dhabi is Reem Investments, launched in June 2005 as a private company with a paid-up capital of US$422m. Shareholders in the company include over 30 UAE-based businesses and private investors. The company targets investments in financial, industrial, and real estate sectors.

Last month, the Abu Dhabi-based company launched Najmat Abu Dhabi, a US$8bn real estate island project. Najmat Abu Dhabi is Reem Investment's first project in the UAE and will be situated on a 20 million sq ft stretch on Al Reem Island. The company has also announced the formation of an automobile joint venture with Alghanim Sons Group (ASG) of Kuwait.

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