DUBAI: Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat has $200 million to $300 million for new deals and it is looking for investment opportunities in the US and Saudi Arabia, its chief executive Mahmood Al-Kooheji said.
The fund holds the state’s stakes in Bahraini companies including Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) and telecoms company Batelco, with a portfolio valued at more than $10 billion.
“We are very confident in investing in the US market,” Al-Kooheji said in a telephone interview with Reuters on Wednesday.
“We are looking at some business opportunities to invest in the Saudi market. The sectors we are interested in are education, health care and services,” he added.
The state investor reported on Wednesday a 140 percent rise in annual net profit, which Al-Kooheji said was due to a big drop in impairments.
Mumtalakat’s profit for last year was 68.9 million dinars ($183 million), up from 28.7 million dinars in the previous year when profits were depressed by an adjustment on goodwill against Alba as a result of lower aluminum prices.
Mumtalakat’s more recent investments constituted less than 10 percent of its portfolio value, yet they contributed more than 15 percent to total annual dividends received, the company said.
Last year, it acquired a significant equity stake in KOS Group, a European health care group focused on long-term care and a significant stake in a specialized international provider of water treatment solutions, Envirogen Group.
Asked if the rift between Qatar and some Arab states, including Bahrain, was affecting the investment climate in the region, Al-Kooheji said he had not seen any change and added the state investor does not have any direct investments in Qatar.
The Bahrain sovereign fund is smaller in size than large state funds such as Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which manages $828 billion, and Qatar Investment Authority, which holds $342 billion in assets, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute (SWFI).
Mumtalakat’s investment style is more similar to UAE’s state investor Mubadala Investment Co. and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.
Mumtalakat holds stakes in more than 50 enterprises across manufacturing, financial services, tourism, telecommunications, real estate, logistics, consumer and health care.
Around 78 percent of its assets are in Bahrain, 20 percent in countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the rest in other parts of the world such as the US, Al-Koohejii said.
The fund hopes to take part in the initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Saudi state oil giant Aramco, the fund’s CEO told Reuters earlier this month.