The aftermath of the global economic downturn has seen significant reductions in asset valuations in large parts of the world, creating potential investment opportunities for Bahrain’s investment company, Mumtalakat, according to its CEO, Talal Al Zain.
Speaking exclusively to Oxford Business Group (OBG), the global publishing, research and consultancy firm, Al-Zain said that there were many opportunities to buy distressed assets worldwide, although he was cautious about some parts of Asia where prices were still inflated.
“There are good deals to be found in North America, Europe and Asia, and we still have time to explore these opportunities,” he said.
The full interview with Al-Zain appears in The Report: Bahrain 2010, OBG’s forthcoming guide on the Kingdom’s economic activity and investment opportunities. OBG’s report will include a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for foreign investors, together with a wide range of interviews with the most prominent political, economic and business leaders.
Al-Zain told OBG that he had always advocated transparency in SWFs, even before the financial crisis transformed the issue into a hot topic, since he has long believed it is key to generating confidence among investors. “For us, the drive to achieve transparency is internally driven and an essential prerequisite to doing business, not the result of outside pressure,” he said. “The ‘black box’ type of operation deters investors in the current economic climate.”
With emerging economies on target to achieve better growth than established markets in 2010, Al-Zain expects Mumtalakat to explore these fields over the coming months. “Forecasts in North America show just 1.5% GDP growth for 2010 and the Euro zone is showing similar figures,” he said, “but emerging markets are set to provide much larger growth percentages. In Bahrain we are expecting 4% growth and projections for some other emerging economies are set at 8%. This is why emerging markets will be a focus for us in 2010.”
Al-Zain was upbeat on the prospects for Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, following the decision to bring in Samer Majali as CEO and map out a new strategy for turning the company around. “Bahrain needs a strong airline to provide a network for our service economy and to attract foreign companies to come to Bahrain,” he said. “Connectivity is also very important.”
The Report: Bahrain 2010 will mark the culmination of more than six months of on-the-ground research by a team of analysts from OBG. It will provide information on opportunities for foreign direct investment into Bahrain’s economy and will be a guide to the many facets of the Kingdom, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, political landscape, banking and sectoral developments. The report will be available in print form or online.