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US eyes Gulf sovereign wealth funds

Dubai, October 28, 2008

The United States would welcome investment from sovereign wealth funds as it grapples with the impact of the global financial crisis on its economy, deputy US treasury secretary Robert Kimmitt said on Tuesday.

Kimmitt is on a five-country swing through the Gulf Arab region to drum up investment in the ailing US economy.

"What we're really doing is simply to make clear to sovereign wealth funds of the world that we are open to investments that are commercial that do not raise security concerns," he told reporters after a speech.

"We think that they are continuing to look very closely at opportunities in the United States. We have a number of cases before the Committee on Foreign Investment right now." He did not elaborate further.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), examines national interest issues and is part of the Treasury Department.

"Every investor that I've spoken with here and elsewhere had been in the United States within the past month, looking for opportunities," he added.

Kimmitt began his Gulf tour in Saudi Arabia and is scheduled to travel to Qatar next.

In his speech, the Treasury official called for open investment policies and warned against protectionism.

Kimmitt earlier this year described sovereign wealth funds as a force for good, but said their rapid growth warranted a vigilant stance by the U.S. government to ensure they remain "a positive influence".

Sovereign wealth funds, investment vehicles owned by national governments that typically disclose little about their activities, have become increasingly active in buying Western assets in the past year, often armed with cash piles from soaring oil prices and trade.

Omar bin Sulaiman, deputy chairman of the UAE central bank's board of directors, said Gulf nations should take advantage of opportunities offered by the global financial crisis instead of focusing on negative economic sentiment.

"This region in general, and the GCC in particular, provides the hope for global companies for growth," Sulaiman, who is also governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre, told reporters at the same event.

"If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is on this side of the world," he added.-Reuters




Tags: US | Sovereign funds | Crisis | welcome |

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