Shafic Ali, head of the Principal Investments Group at Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC) late Tuesday participated in a panel discussion on (Emerging Trends in Global Infrastructure Investing) organised by the Arab Bankers Association of North America (ABANA) during its 2014 Summit.
Other participants in the discussions of this topic included Ahmad Atwan, Senior Portfolio Manager, Global Infrastructure Fund, Morgan Stanley; and Amr M. Nosseir, Founding Partner, Perella Weinberg Partners.
Ali told KUNA following the discussions that the private power projects in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been "very successful. Large numbers of the projects have been built, many of them with active participation by Gulf developers or investors or public institutions." This success, he explained, "is evidenced by being built in very short time periods, of having solid financial track records, a high degree of reliability, and attracting foreign investors into the region." Asked to comment on Atwan's mention that the US will be the world's biggest oil and gas producer in 2020 and if Gulf countries are concerned about that, Ali said the demand on oil and gas in Asia is growing, and Asia is becoming an important destination of Gulf oil and gas.
People think this will weaken the US-GCC relationship, he said. "That is not true. Their relationship is based on more than oil and gas interests. There are also geo-political interests involved." Ali is responsible for a portfolio of over 30 equity investments with a book value of about USD 2.7 billion and much bigger market value.
These investments cover a range of sectors, including power generation, water desalination, telecommunication, financial services, steelmaking and chemicals, with a total asset base of over USD 30 billion.
Kuwait-based GIC is a financial institution wholly and equally owned by the six GCC countries. It acts on a purely commercial basis, despite its status as a multilateral development institution.
At the ABANA Summit, other participants took part in a second panel that tackled (The Middle East and North Africa: Macroeconomic and geopolitical Outlook) with an emphasis on the countries that went through the Arab Spring. Others participated in a third panel that dealt with (Investing in the MENA Region's Entrepreneurs).
ABANA has long served as a forum for discussions that enhance the understanding of business and capital flows between the US and the Middle East region. Its annual Summits represent opportunities that bring together a group of thinkers who are deeply engaged in the region's business and economic developments.