The head of a $700m investment fund targeting the subcontinent, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa region, has said he sees limited opportunities for investment in the Middle East over the next few years.
Shirish Saraf, vice-chairman and chief executive officer of Hong Kong-based Samena Capital, says foreign investors are likely to remain cautious about deploying capital in the Middle East for several years as a result of the uprisings that have ousted three regional leaders in the past 12 months.
“On a broad level, is the Middle East attractive for foreign inflows? The answer is no,” says Saraf. “A number of factors point to there not being any hot money flowing into the region over the next two or three years.”
Samena Capital is expected to close a new $700m fund in June 2012, of which Saraf says only a small amount will be invested in the Middle East and North Africa. “Right now opportunities are there in the Middle East,” he says, but adds that India will be a much larger focus for investment.
A first fund of $180m was also primarily invested into India, although four Middle East investments were made. In March 2011, Samena Capital sold off its stake in Oman’s Renaissance Services for $22m, after paying $13.4m in September 2009.