Asian fund launch stalled by market jitters

17 February 1995

The first fund aiming to give GCC citizens the chance to invest in Asia is to be relaunched in March after investors' confidence was hit by the recent volatility in Far East markets. The Ibn Battutah Asian Growth Fund, launched by Al Hilal, was planned to raise $100 million by the end of January, but commitments fell short of the $50 million required for the initial closing (MEED 27:1:95).

Banque Indosuez Bahrain Offshore Banking Unit and Carr Indosuez Asia, the fund's arrangers, are planning a broader marketing strategy when the fund is relaunched. This will include institutional investors in Switzerland, the UK and Far East, as well as the GCC citizens originally targeted.

'We will broaden our scope because a number of investors outside the Gulf expressed strong interest in the fund,' says David Caillard, senior manager for capital markets at Banque Indosuez. He says the initial closing is likely to be about $50 million, but the open-ended structure could push that figure higher in the future. 'I hope to get up to $100 million. It is an ambitious target, but there is clearly potential,' he says.

Caillard says Gulf investors were enthusiastic about the fund, but commitments evaporated because of the dismal performance of Asian markets since the Mexico crisis in December.

The fund is registered in Labuan, Malaysia, but once it is set up the fund managers will seek a listing on the Bahrain stock exchange.

Funds will mainly be placed in equities in Asian countries with a Muslim majority, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Other markets with significant Muslim minorities will also be included, such as Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India.

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