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Biggs Looking for ‘Regime Change’ in Syria Before Investing

Barton Biggs, the hedge-fund manager who bought stocks when the market bottomed in 2009, said there needs to be a change in government in Syria before he invests in the country after popular unrest escalated this year.

“I’m afraid with after what’s happened we’re going to have to have regime change,” said Biggs, who runs New York-based Traxis Partners LP, in an interview today on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness” with Pimm Fox. “It’s going to be hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together.”

Syrians took to the streets across the country today, defying warnings by the Interior Ministry not to hold demonstrations as the anti-government challenge to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule escalates. The protests are part of a wave of popular movements that have unseated rulers in Egypt and Tunisia, sparked violent repression in Libya and Bahrain and helped push oil prices up more than 20 percent this year.

Biggs, a former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asset Management, traveled to Syria with a group of other U.S. investors in late 2009 and met with President al-Assad. He said he was “very impressed” with the Syrian leader at the time and is disappointed that the potential investments didn’t take place.

“We talked specifically about a sovereign-debt issue, a private-equity fund,” Biggs said of his visit two years ago. “Syria’s financial position is very strong. They have very little sovereign debt outstanding, at least in 2010. They have a public-sector surplus. Everything could have happened. There was a very favorable response from investors.”

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