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Ultra-rich Middle East investors target Russia

Russian hedge fund Pharos Financial claims it will raise more than $1bn from investors in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states.

Moscow-based Pharos reported tremendous interest in Russian equities from a trip to meet investors in the region. Gulf investors, flush with petrodollars from record oil prices, are seeking new investment opportunities according to Steve Kalnoky, business development manager at Pharos.

"One of our funds is a gas-sector fund, and even our blue-chip portfolio is very heavy with oil, which are things that are well understood in this region," he told Bloomberg. Pharos, which was started over 11 years ago by former Soros fund advisor Peter Halloran, may set up sharia-complaint funds to attract more Gulf investors.

Russian bank Troika Dialog is also hopeful of cashing in on new business links with the Middle East. The bank last week set up a Kuwait-Russian business forum and is understood to be setting up an office soon in Dubai.

A senior source at Troika said: "The Gulf investment story is very interesting for us. We think the sovereign wealth funds, along with the region's ultra high net worth segment are seriously taking a look at investing in Russia."

Rival Russian group Renaissance Capital is also setting up in Dubai and has already gained regulatory approval to open an office in the Dubai International Financial Centre. Renaissance said Ahmed Muallah, managing director and head of the Middle East, will run the office as chief executive of Renaissance Group (Dubai).

In a statement last week, Muallah said: "The Gulf region has a long track record in investing in emerging markets and the opportunity for a firm such as ours, with a strong track record in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, is huge. The Dubai International Financial Centre is an ideal base from which to develop our regional operations."

Source: Banking News
Date: 06.03.2008 [168]
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