The UK-based GEM Dolphin Investment Managers is planning to develop its fund raising activities in the Middle East with a marketing drive to promote a range of investment vehicles, including a new Pakistan fund.

‘We are looking at the Middle East very closely, because I feel the market hasn’t really been served well in the past,’ says the chief investment officer of GEM Dolphin Avinash Vazirani. ‘All funds tend to come from big banks selling in-house products.’ Vazirani says his firm plans to set up a distribution network through local agencies that can promote GEM Dolphin’s existing funds, as well as products tailored for investors in the region.

One of the first funds the investment house plans to market in the region is the South Asia Access Fund, which was incorporated in Mauritius at the end of 1994. The fund will be capped at $100 million, and will target medium-sized companies which are expected to become the blue-chip firms of the future. It will be marketed to institutions and sophisticated investors.

‘I would like to market in the Middle East simply because there is a big community with affinity towards the Indian subcontinent and South Asia in general,’ says Vazirani. ‘Middle East institutions especially are all looking at the subcontinent. I think there is a reasonable appetite for a fund such as ours in the Gulf.’

GEM Dolphin is also planning to market its open ended GEM-NIT Pakistan Opportunities Fund, which has been set up in joint venture with National Investment Trust, one of Pakistan’s leading investment institutions. This is expected to raise about $20 million-25 million. ‘We would be disappointed if we did not raise at least 60 per cent of the total in the Middle East,’ says Vazirani.

However, the launch date will depend on an improvement in sentiment for Pakistani stocks, which has suffered from continued civil unrest in Karachi. ‘Although it is the right time to invest…it does not equate with the right time to market something,’ Vazirani says.

GEM Dolphin is a joint venture between Brewin Dolphin Holdings, a UK stockbroker, and Global Emerging Markets, the London-based investment bank and brokerage house.