Bahrain Wealth Fund Plans to Invest Over $400 Million This Year

  • Mumtalakat seeking more international deals, CEO says
  • Fund ‘happy’ with 2015 performance even after profit declined

Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund plans to invest more than $400 million this year on international deals as it seeks to further diversify away from domestic assets, according to Chief Executive Officer Mahmood Al Kooheji.

Mumtalakat, as the fund is known, will spend more outside Bahrain this year after the bulk of investments were made in its home market in 2015, Al Kooheji said on Sunday by phone from Manama, declining to give more detail. The fund invested $335 million in Bahrain last year in industrial, manufacturing, real estate and tourism businesses, and made one investment of an undisclosed size internationally. About 57 percent of Mumtalakat’s investments are in Bahrain, Al Kooheji said.

The fund, one of only a few in the Middle East to publish financial statements, reported a 70 percent drop in profit for 2015, largely due to an impairment of its stake in Aluminium Bahrain, Al Kooheji said. Profit fell to $76.3 million even as losses at Bahrain national carrier Gulf Air, which the fund also owns, narrowed to $82.7 million from $174.5 million, the company said in a statement.

“Everybody knows 2015 was a very challenging year, so in that context we had a good performance,” Al Kooheji said. “We achieved profitability for a third year in a row, so we are happy with it. We could have been happier, but it’s a good result given the background.”

Mumtalakat has already announced three international investments this year, including in Kuwait-based industrial company Gulf Cyro and Spanish aluminum grain refiner Asturiana de Aleaciones , known as Aleastur. Earlier this month the fund announced that it partnered with Regent Properties to buy an interest in a U.S. real estate portfolio.

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