20 October 2007

Dubai CEO: Ownership worries won't stop investment

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top official of a Dubai financial and regulatory center on Friday said emerging markets would continue to invest in U.S. and European companies despite uneasiness among some policy-makers in developed nations.

"It's unfortunate that there is this investment protectionism," Nasser Al Shaali, chief executive officer of the Dubai International Financial Centre, told Reuters. "It would behoove all of us to find areas of cooperation, mechanisms of cooperation rather than reaction to this process."

To address uneasiness over growing foreign ownership stakes in American companies, the U.S. Congress earlier this year passed a law overhauling how the government reviews foreign takeovers of U.S. companies. It requires U.S. regulators to spend more time vetting deals and keep Congress better informed.

However, concerns remain.

Eight U.S. lawmakers this week urged the Bush administration to block the proposed buyout of Massachusetts-based technology group 3Com Corp (COMS.O: Quote, Profile, Research), saying a Chinese company's role in the $2.2 billion transaction threatened U.S. national security.

Last month, some Democrats called for a careful national security review of a deal that would give Dubai's state-owned stock exchange control of 20 percent of Nasdaq, the exchange that is home to many top U.S. high-tech companies. In the proposed deal, Nasdaq would take a strategic one-third stake in Dubai International Financial Exchange, which operates under the DIFC umbrella.

DIFC was created by the government of Dubai to launch a regional capital market that allows 100 percent foreign ownership, tax-free income and profits, and that has strict money laundering laws and a sophisticated infrastructure.

"We will be increasing our participation in the U.S. and Europe. We will be going after those markets with more fervor to build bridges with those countries or with those peoples," he said.

Another concern among some Western policy-makers is the need for transparency and governance guidelines for big state-owned investment vehicles, called sovereign wealth funds, which now control an estimated $2 trillion in assets. The issue was on the table at meeting of Group of Seven finance officials in Washington on Friday.

Shaali said emerging market players have "more conviction than ever" that investment relationships with the United States and Europe should be strengthened.

"Even more so because of this reactive behavior," he said. "That is exactly and specifically what we are trying to overcome -- the fear factor or the xenophobia."

The president of DIFC is Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the ruler of Gulf trade and tourism hub Dubai and the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates of which it is a part.

No comments:

Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.