Cheap oil makes UAE an attractive place to invest, says ADFG chief

Abu Dhabi Financial Group is targeting a series of investments in the UAE, according to Jassim Alseddiqi, the chief executive, as lower oil prices make investments financially attractive.

“The pricing today for the UAE markets, whether it’s real estate, private equity or public equities, is extremely competitive and extremely attractive compared to any other jurisdiction in the world,” Mr Alseddiqi told reporters on the sidelines of a conference organised by the business school Insead in Abu Dhabi.

“Our investment strategy has always been opportunistic and geographically agnostic.

“The opportunity today is here in the UAE, that’s why we’re looking here now.”

The firm, which manages US$3.2 billion of assets, is pursuing investments in the real estate and financial services sectors, with announcements expected within 12 months, Mr Alseddiqi said.

ADFG’s real estate investments include London’s New Scotland Yard and 1 Palace Street, a luxury residential complex next to Buckingham Palace.

Much of the attractiveness of UAE assets is thanks to the new economic realities of the past 18 months, in the wake of falling oil revenues, Mr Alseddiqi said.

The company announced last month that it was considering increasing its stake in the Dubai-based shipping firm Gulf Navigation to 50 per cent “if the price was right”, after acquiring about 6 per cent of the company earlier in the year.

Mr Alseddiqi declined to comment on the status of negotiations with the shipper, whose shares ended the day up 2.4 per cent at 49.5 fils.

ADFG is in discussions with the UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority to become a market maker institution on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi is the sole market maker for the ADX, having begun operations in February.

“We’re in the process, it takes time,” said Mr Alseddiqi, declining to comment on when the licensing process is expected to be completed.

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