Asiya Aims to Lure Arab Investments to Tap Asia Growth, CEO Says

Asiya Investments Dubai Ltd., a newly set up unit of Kuwait-based Kuwait China Investment Co., aims to persuade Arab sovereign funds and wealthy families to boost investments in Asia to profit from the region’s economic growth.

Kuwait China Investment, in which the country’s sovereign wealth fund Kuwait Investment Authority owns a 15 percent stake, currently manages about $500 million and the company wants to increase that to about $1 billion over the next two years, Chief Executive Officer Mohab Mufti said in an interview in Dubai today. Asiya, which means Asia in Arabic, will start a unit in Hong Kong later in 2012 to support its fund management activities in Asia, he said.

Several Arab funds are boosting investments in Asia as economic growth in the region gathers pace. China allowed the Kuwait Investment Authority to invest about $300 million in the country’s yuan-denominated stocks and bonds, the state-run Kuwait News Agency said in March. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, and the Indian government in January agreed to start a joint working group to explore investment opportunities in India.

The Arab region “is under-allocated to Asia,” Mufti said. Given Asia’s share of the global gross domestic product, the region’s investments in Asia “should be growing to 20 percent of the total from 5 percent” now, he said.

About half of Asiya’s funds are invested in publicly traded Asian shares and the other half in private equity assets, Mufti said. Among Asiya’s target markets are China, India, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as companies in infrastructure, real estate and energy industries that rely on domestic demand, Mufti said.

Asiya, which offers corporate advisory services, investment opportunities through funds and private equity deals, was set up in the tax-free Dubai International Financial Center.

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