How to Spend It – for sovereign wealth funds

April 17, 2009

As dust settles and investor morale improves, sovereign wealth funds are slowly coming back to the market.

But they are not going to simply repeat what they’ve done in the past few years — hunting bargains in everything from property to banks. They are likely to carefully balance out the temptation for higher returns and the need to invest in strategic assets which benefit their own economies.

The so-called “south-south” trade is set to gather pace, providing much-needed capital inflows to emerging markets.

Javier Santiso, chief development economist of the OECD Development Centre, says in a book published late last year that should sovereign wealth funds allocate 10 percent of their portfoilo to other emerging and developing economies, this could generate inflows of $1.4 trillion.

Domestic investment — previously a taboo during the oil-fuelled inflation boom — is also increasing. RAKIA, the SWF of the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah in the UAE, is offering easier financing terms to local real estate companies to help them weather the downturn.

“For raw material-rich countries, reducing resource dependence through vertical and horizontal sector diversification is a major development goal,” writes Helmut Reisen, head of research at OECD Development Centre in a Chatham House book on the Gulf region.

“By investing in world-class businesses, technology transfer and network benefits can be fostered and production efficiency can be raised as a future driver of growth.”

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