Global Investment House: MEED assessment

16 September 2013

GIH has emerged from a traumatic episode

GIH has emerged from a traumatic episode, which was a hard shock for a group that Al-Ghunaim had built into one of the most high-profile and respected private-sector investment houses in the Middle East.

This has also been a painful period for Kuwait. Although the country is often caricatured as statist in outlook, it was an Arabian pioneer in developing a large financial sector independent of government and the ruling family.

These institutional and cultural strengths have helped GIH and its creditors navigate a gradual course away from the 2008-09 crisis.

Yet even with a supportive pool of financiers, GIH found it could not simply trade its way out of the losses suffered on a proprietary investment book. Part of this had been acquired at the height of the Gulf business and real estate boom up to mid-2008, when asset prices were high.

The ongoing losses on this portfolio, and the debt burden left by the years of crisis, were continuing to hold GIH back. They were also, perhaps, a drain on management time and energy, which could otherwise have been concentrated on the profitable fee-earning activities.

Now GIH can concentrate on this business, where it retains a strong franchise. Gulf investors are flush with liquidity and the group retains major strengths as it seeks to attract more of this potential custom.

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