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Mideast investors 'must diversify in the future'

MANAMA: Regional investors should look to the real economy and diversification in the future. That is the view of Abu Dhabi Investment House (ADIH) managing director Rashad Janahi.

"We should be looking at more investment in the real economy in agriculture, healthcare and education," he said.

"What we have done at ADIH is look at diversification into investments in the real economy and move away from real estate.

"For the past five years real estate was the right investment. It was booming.

"ADIH has made a return for its investors of 145 per cent on equity over the past four years in these markets and its total equity stands at 1.4 billion UAE dirhams ($381.1 million).

"But now is the time to look elsewhere in the wake of the global economic downturn," he added.

He said ADIH had recently established Wellpharma Holding, an investment arm in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors, and launched the Wellpharma Medical Solutions Fund, a closed fund which raised $20m.

"The fund will invest in the development and operation of a local production facility that will specialise in the manufacturing and distribution of high-quality Intravenous (IV) Solutions for medical treatments, which will have its markets both regionally and internationally.

"The Wellpharma Medical Solutions project will be the first among many in ADIH's Wellpharma product range. Other initiatives will include medical office buildings and other pioneering and innovative medical products."

"Our strategy of diversification will also see us also looking at agriculture with various parties in the Middle East and are doing due diligence on some projects at the moment," he said.

"We should be able to make an announcement in the third quarter of the year about this.

"We are also looking at shipping and expect to finalise one fund in shipping in the near future.

"We are looking to diversification from real estate as the market demands these types of products."

Looking at the global picture, he said that while the oil price had been fluctuating in the past three months prices had been on the high side and this provided liquidity in the region.

"The investment outlook in the region is still not as positive as it should be and there are still a lot of doubts," he said.

"The Dubai problem has not been fully solved.

"Here in Bahrain, the Vision 2030 is very promising for foreign direct investment and will see projects attract funding from international markets," he added.

On a slightly downbeat note, he said the US was still struggling with unemployment in the short term and the recovery is not going to be as fast as some predicted. It is still the biggest economy in the world and we need it to recover.

"In the changed climate we are doing due diligence more thoroughly and we are positive about India performing well and are positive about investment in North Africa," he added.

"It will be a very difficult year but with our diversification the first quarter of the year has been positive.

"It will be a challenging year but our strategy of diversification will prove positive," he added.



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