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|| Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund eyes global assets

mumtalakat.jpgMumtalakat, Bahrain's $10 billion sovereign wealth fund, will shift more of its portfolio into global assets and secure a credit rating this year - its chief executive said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswire.

"The bulk of our focus will be on developed countries, but we'll look at developing countries to take advantage of emerging economies," Al Zain said. He also mentioned that in the medium term the fund's portfolio will be allocated equally between global assets and MENA. Internationally, they will look at hedge funds, fixed income and alternative investments - initially focusing on liquid investments and then moving to other asset classes.

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More details from Dow Jones Newswire follows


Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co., the Gulf state's $10 billion sovereign wealth fund, will shift more of its portfolio into global assets and secure a credit rating this year, its chief executive said in an interview Saturday.

"The financial meltdown changed the way we look at our future," said Talal Al Zain. "The bulk of our focus will be on developed countries, but we'll look at developing countries to take advantage of emerging economies,"

Al Zain said that in the medium term the fund's portfolio will be allocated equally between global assets and Middle East and North Africa.

Mumtalakat has a portfolio worth around $10 billion, 98% of which is invested mainly in stakes across state-owned companies and other private investments, and 2% of which is allocated to external fund managers. Al-Zain said he hopes the fund will grow its assets as it diversifies its investments, both across asset classes and geographies.

"Internationally, we'll look at hedge funds, fixed income, alternative investments," he said. The company will initially focus on liquid investments and then move to other asset classes.

Mumtalakat also plans to divest some of its assets, while possibly selling stakes in some of the companies in its portfolios, either to strategic partners or as shares to the public. The fund will sell stakes "when the time is right," Al-Zain said.

"We're looking for long-term partners, because our mandate is really growing the wealth of the people," he said. "I want to have that ability of providing liquidity for Bahrain."

Set up in 2006 as a holding company for the government's non oil-and-gas assets, Mumtalakat has invested mostly at home, with the bulk invested in private or state-owned companies. Its portfolio includes 50% of Bahrain's national carrier Gulf Air, aluminum manufacturer Alba, and a 42% stake in McLaren Group Ltd., the parent company of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 racing team.

The fund has embarked on a borrowing program, with a $400 million loan secured last month as a bridge and more bank borrowing expected this year, ahead of the assignment of a credit rating.

Mumtalakat will tap the market for bonds, including Islamic bonds, once its gets a rating.




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