Dubai government investment agency Istithmar World Ventures has been “put off” looking for deals in the US and instead will seek new opportunities in Africa and the Far East, according to its CEO.
“I am looking at everywhere but the US,” Ahmed bin Fahad told magazine Arabian Business on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
“[We are] being invited by so many places to come, and being given concessions and the privilege to take opportunities without even an auction. We don’t get that in the States, and it has put me off looking in the US.”
His remarks follow Sunday's speech to the forum from US President George W. Bush, who told around 1,500 delegates that the US will “continue to welcome foreign investment and trade”.
“There are voices in my country that urge America to adopt measures that would isolate us from the global economy,” Bush said. “I firmly reject these calls for protectionism. The US will stay open for business.”
Istithmar World Ventures is a subsidiary of Istithmar World, which is part of state-owned conglomerate Dubai World. Dubai World owns DP World, a container port handler that was forced by US lawmakers to sell US assets over security concerns.
“There are still a lot of untapped opportunities related to natural resources and financials in Africa and Far East Asia,” bin Fahad continued.
“These are all places where there is a really nice hedge from the rest of the world, and that you can really extract a lot of value.
“We want to be there as first mover in certain areas where we can provide value and [will] be welcomed and considered and appreciated - this is a big thing for us,” he added.
Bin Fahad also revealed that Istithmar World Ventures is aiming to double the value of its assets under management by the end of the year.
“We are looking to double in terms of the value of assets under management, but in terms [of the value of] acquisitions we would love to triple [from last year],” he said, adding that details of how this might be achieved would be announced in September.
Dubai World, whose business include property developer Nakheel, has a multi-billion dollar global portfolio, including P&O, US retailer Barney's, a stake in lender Standard Chartered, and about $20 billion in real estate assets outside Dubai.
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