Oldest Mideast wealth fund eyes global infrastructure projects

The Kuwait Investment Authority, one of the world’s oldest sovereign wealth funds, is targeting global infrastructure projects after taking part in a consortium that bought the London City Airport this year, Chairman Anas Al-Saleh said. Al-Saleh, Kuwait’s deputy premier and minister of finance, said the fund has shied away from purchasing trophy assets, focusing on deals that “give us our targeted returns.” With $592 billion in assets under management, KIA is the world’s fifth-largest sovereign wealth fund, according to data compiled by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. The fund traces its roots to the Kuwait Investment Board, which was established eight years before the country’s independence in 1961, according to its website. It has investments in areas including equities, bonds, real-estate and infrastructure. “Our interest now is infrastructure projects,” Al-Saleh said in an interview in Kuwait City. “KIA has been active lately, the last project was London City Airport. We are, with our strategic partners, looking for opportunities internationally for infrastructure projects.” The plunge in crude prices has prompted oil-rich nations from Norway to Saudi Arabia to dip into wealth funds as well as foreign-currency reserves. Kuwait, OPEC’s fifth-biggest producer, will post a budget shortfall of 10 percent of economic output in the current fiscal year, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Al-Saleh said the government has dipped into KIA’s “general reserve fund” to finance the budget shortfall, but has maintained its policy of adding 10 percent of revenue to its so-called Future Generations Fund. “We’re injecting and we’re taking out of it to finance our budget.” (By Manus Cranny, Zainab Fattah and Wael Mahdi/Bloomberg)

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