Investment | 3/27/2009 12:00:00 AM
The Arabs are coming
Mubadala, an Arab investment organization, is thinking of Colombia as a possible investment destination. What is this fund looking for?
In the first days of March and amidst the greatest reserve, six technicians arrived in Bogotá. They work for Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s state organization for promoting investments, and they are interested in analyzing the possibility of investing in Colombia, in the sectors they lead: infrastructure, oil, energy, real estate, telecommunications, tourism and health.
This Arab interest is good news, bearing in mind that the financial collapse is starting to place restrictions on international credits. Mubadala has assets of about US$10 billion, and its main goal is to get Abu Dhabi’s economy to change from being basically based on oil and gas to one where many sectors with added value are developed.
This explains the interest it has had in new businesses. It signed a joint venture with Indra, the main information technology multinational in Spain and one of the biggest in Europe and Latin America -the sales of which amount 2.1 billion euros-, in order to develop technologies and carry out common projects. Furthermore, it also signed a deal with Rolls Royce to form a company that will carry out repairs and maintenance on aircraft engines.
In the recent past, Mubadala bought 8 per cent of AMD, a global supplier of microprocessors, for US$622 million; it also bought 7.5 per cent of Carlyle Group -one of the world’s biggest private capital funds- for US$1.35 billion and, apart from that, it acquired a stake in Ferrari.
This tour was a result of the visit that Colombian president Alvaro Uribe and Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, Luis Guillermo Plata, made to the United Arab Emirates in October, and after the meeting they held at the Davos World Economic Forum with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s prince and president of Mubadala.
“The most important aspect of this visit is that Colombia had not had a proactive experience with countries in the Middle East, just as the Arabs had not had one with our region”, Minister Plata explained. In that sense, Colombia can become a platform for countries in the Middle East that want to come to Latin America. The same can happen the other way round.
In a meeting with Colombian businessmen (led by Luis Carlos Villegas, President of ANDI, the national business association of Colombia), Jassem Mohamed Al Sabih (CEO of Al Yah Satellite Communications Company Yahsat, a company owned by the Mubadala group) highlighted the cooperation between the government and the private sector to promote businesses, the quality of human resources and the investment opportunities offered by the country.
If Colombia wants to make the most out of this opportunity, it will need to move quickly and design attractive projects which can also be attached to the productive transformation process the government has attempted to promote.
*Article originally published in Spanish in Dinero (http://www.dinero.com/noticias-negocios/llegan-arabes/58031.aspx), the financial magazine owned by Semana Publications, and translated by Thomas Sparrow, journalist at Semana International.