Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

“Oil wells with taps”

November 4, 2008

U.S. companies who think they can command the prices of a
bygone era from Middle East investors need to think again, says
Zabeel Investment’s executive chairman.

Because of the hype surrounding sovereign wealth funds from
oil-rich Gulf Arab states, in particular, U.S. corporate players
seem to have visions of “oil wells with taps” when they see an
Arab investor, Mohammed Ali al-Hashimi said at the Reuters
Middle East Investment Summit.

Zabeel has stakes in Sony, planemaker EADS and bought
a Las Vegas-based nightclub and restaurant developer last February.

“They think that because I look the way I look and I wear
this thing here (traditional head cover), I’m going to pay them
a lot more than their company is worth. It doesn’t work that
way, we’re not stupid.

“Corporates in the U.S. haven’t woken up to reality I think.
They’re living in a dream world.

Reality is that rich Middle Eastern investors need to focus
closer to home and protect their own backyards amid the global
financial crisis.

“I think the priority is here, it’s our bread and butter,
the reason for our success. I’m not trying to be patriotic but
in times like this, that’s where people should be focused I
think.”

So tough luck, troubled U.S. firms. But don’t despair just
yet:

“I still think opportunities in the U.S. are there and I’m
interested but until people get their heads out of the clouds
and become realistic, we’ll wait,” the Zabeel executive added.

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