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Sat 18 Nov 2006 08:00 AM

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Golden times

Dubai Investment Capital has realised that the biggest prize lies abroad, writes Anil Bhoyrul.

My late father used to tell me that to make a million, you need a million. But if you have two million, you can make ten million.

I suspect that Sameer Al Ansari, the founding CEO of Dubai International Capital, may have had similar advice. In the past year, the investment arm of Dubai Holding has turned itself into one of the world’s foremost investment companies. Everything it touches quickly turns to gold. And the best may be yet to come.

First let’s look at Al Ansari’s vital statistics. In just over 24 months of operations, DIC is managing over US$5bn of assets. Within the next five years, that figure is likely to hit the US$20bn mark. This summer it acquired a US$1.23bn stake in budget hotel chain Travelodge and a US$1.2bn stake in the industrial manufacturer Doncasters, which followed last year’s US$1.5bn acquisition of the Tussauds Group. It is also the largest shareholder in Daimler Chrysler. But having bought the US$1bn stake for US$41.1 per share, Al Ansari has watched in glee as the price rose to US$64 a share.

“Time to offload some shares,” he tells us this week. How right he is.

So what next? The DIC is currently launching a global strategic equities fund with US$1bn in equities. In the next two to six months it will raise another US$1bn so will have total equities of US$2bn - with these it can invest almost US$20bn. In its first purchase, the fund is set to spend US$1bn on a stake in a New York-listed company by March. But the fund will mainly focus on the 500 largest companies worldwide in terms of market capitalization.

I know that privately, Al Ansari’s staff are so impressed with the potential returns, they are considering further expansion by listing DIC on the DIFX in the next two years. By then, it is likely that the UK investments in the likes of the Tussauds Group will have reaped dividends.

Last week I was in Doha, and there, officials told me that Qatar was planning a similar foreign investment strategy.

What we are seeing is a seismic shift in Arab business policies. Financial chiefs have realised that you can make good money at home – but seriously good money abroad.