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MP slams fund for BD182m loss

BAHRAIN's sovereign wealth fund has come in for criticism from a top MP after it yesterday reported losses of BD181.7 million for last year.

The Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, the country's non-oil and gas investment arm with a portfolio of 40 firms, said its revenues declined by 9.9 per cent compared to 2011 - mainly due to lower aluminium prices impacting Alba.

It said lower aluminium prices were also the main reason for a 66.8pc reduction in consolidated gross profit, compared to 2011.

However, it managed to reduce its losses from BD270.6m in 2011, which it attributed to a drop in impairment losses (a decrease in the value of assets) and a rise in income from investments in financial services and telecommunications.

Profits from associated companies increased by 9.1pc, but it was the fifth straight year that Mumtalakat, which was set up in 2006, reported a deficit.

The vice-chairman of parliament's finance and economic affairs committee, Abdulhakim Al Shammari, yesterday criticised the figures and called for an overhaul of the Mumtalakat board.

"What we need now is real supervision and accountability with oversight by the National Audit Court," he told the GDN.

"HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, envisioned that Mumtalakat would develop Bahraini companies by bringing in modern management practices and a growth strategy, which the board has failed to do."

Mumtalakat is responsible for some of Bahrain's most high-profile companies including Alba, Asry, Bahrain Airport Company, Bahrain International Circuit, Batelco, Gulf Air and National Bank of Bahrain.

Its chief executive Mahmood Al Kooheji defended its performance, describing it as "solid" in a difficult climate.

"Last year, we achieved a solid performance despite challenging market conditions in the global economy," he said in a statement.

"We refined our investment strategy and aligned our organisation to focus on both value enhancement of the existing portfolio and value creation through developing new investment opportunities in key sectors.

"While the scope of our investment strategy remains global, we are particularly optimistic about local opportunities, which we believe will present attractive investments for us in the short- and medium-term."

Mumtalakat said it remained well-positioned throughout the year in terms of liquidity and capital structure and currently has $7.1 billion of assets under management. avinash@gdn.com.bh



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