Gulf investors look west for bigger returns

Debt crisis in western markets create lucrative openings for investors
Gulf investors look west for bigger returns
London Stock Exchange
By Reuters
Tue 24 May 2011 10:32 AM

Middle East investors are looking west for investment opportunities as financial crises in developed markets such as Europe create more value plays, a study released by US-based fund manager Invesco showed.

Growth in emerging markets have been strong in the last year but investors are increasingly looking toward markets where investment have been under pressure.

"A lot of investors are looking back to the developed market where they are seeing good value. If you look at the prices in Western Europe, for instance, they're cheap," Nick Tolchard, head of Invesco Middle East told reporters at a conference to launch the study on Monday.

Gulf-based sovereign wealth funds, however, have not abandoned regional and local investments despite the widespread political unrest, according to Tolchard.

"The political crises might mean short-term concerns but investors in the region, like sovereign wealth funds, are taking a more sensible long-term returns approach. There still appears to be a great deal of confidence. At least, there is no more cautiousness then there was last year," he said.

With 22 percent of Middle Eastern investors expected to be less risk-averse in 2012, Tolchard said confidence may also return in the asset management industry next year.

Middle East investors continue to opt for short-term investments, the study showed. But wealthier investors were more likely to invest in riskier enterprises with the expectation of higher returns.

Gulf investors, for instance, have an average 2.2 years time horizon, compared to expatriates at 5.1 years and sovereign wealth funds at 6.7 years. The report cited "investor education" and "market immaturity" as the most important factors behind this trend.

The study included a wide range of Gulf investors, ranging from sovereign wealth funds to retail bank advisers and pension funds. The region's asset management industry is estimated to be worth close to $2 trillion.

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