By Shane McGinley
The Islamic lender has also worked on a number of high profile sukuk in the region
Barwa Bank, the Qatari Shariah-compliant lender which raised finance for one of the United States’ largest urban rejuvenation projects and managed sukuks for the Dubai and Qatar governments, has launched a new fund to target the Brazil market, the CEO told Arabian Business.
“We have a Brazil property fund going,” Steve Troop, CEO of Barwa Bank said in an interview. “There is traditionally a strong appetite for real estate in this part of the world, coupled with a pretty acute eye for value,” he added.
With Brazil set to host the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and Rio de Janeiro to become the first South American to stage the Olympic Games when the torch is lit in 2016, the country is set to be one of the main BRIC economies in the coming years.
“I have worked in Brazil and I believe in Brazil… It makes sense,” Troop said.
Latest figures have shown Arab countries imported more than $3.6bn worth of goods from Brazil during the first half of 2012, while Arab exports to Brazil reached nearly $4bn during the same period.
Brazilian exports to Arab countries mainly consisted of sugars, meat, ores, slag, ash and cereals, while Arab exports to Brazil included mineral fuel, oil and fertilisers.
According to the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Saudi Arabia remains the leading trade partner of Brazil in the Arab world.
The Gulf kingdom received more than $720m in imports and over $1.4bn in exports to Brazil during the first half of 2012.
The UAE was also a major trade partner of Brazil with more than $489m in imports and over $65.6m in exports.
Access to the country improved dramatically last year when Qatar Airways announced it had signed a code share agreement with Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes, a deal that will open up 47 Brazilian routes for the state backed carrier.
The code share will allow Qatar Airways access to some of Brazil’s most important business cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the airline said.
GOL is one of the biggest airlines operating in the South American country with a fleet of 108 aircraft. It operates some 860 flights daily to 61 destinations in 10 countries, according to its website.
“Latin America is a sleeping economic giant. If Brazil, Argentina and Chile get together, and we measure the economics of these three countries, they are a huge powerhouse,” Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, said in an interview with Bloomberg.
Dubai’s Emirates Airline has been flying to Brazil since 2007 when it began flying to Sao Paulo and this year it added a daily non-stop service to Rio de Janeiro.
Barwa Bank has previously been the joint lead manager of sukku for the State of Qatar, the government of Dubai, the Islamic Development Bank and Dubai’s Emaar Properties, the developer behind the Burj Khalifa.
One of its largest real estate funding projects has also been the financing of the US$700m CityCenterDC project in Washington DC. The main investor in the 10-acre, mixed-use development, which is located in the heart of the US capital and is America’s largest downtown construction project, is Qatari Diar.