Kuwait denies plans to cut euro zone exposure
Kuwait City, May 27, 2010
Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), the country's sovereign wealth fund, said on Thursday it did not plan to reduce its exposure to euro zone investments, denying a Kuwaiti newspaper report.
"KIA denies local newspaper reports that there is a consideration by (KIA) to reduce its investments and presence in European countries ... as a reaction to crises that some European countries are facing," KIA said in an emailed statement.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Anba had said on Thursday that the sovereign fund was planning to reduce investments in the euro zone on fears another crisis involving Portugal and Spain was lurking.
The paper added that KIA's economic reports "confirmed the escalation" of the crisis in Greece, which could lead to new debt problems for the two other European states.
KIA holds a stake in Germany's Daimler and is a majority stakeholder in telecom firm Zain. KIA invested about $750 million in US asset manager BlackRock last year, and said in January it was eyeing investments in Asia and Latin America in 2010.
In December, KIA sold its $3 billion stake in Citigroup for a profit of $1.1 billion. The authority said in the statement that it was a long-term investor and there was no change to its investment strategy including in the euro zone.
Steffen Kern, economist at Deutsche Bank and a sovereign wealth fund expert, said he viewed any substantial currency restructurings by sovereign funds on the basis of recent economic events in Europe as premature.
"Most sovereign wealth funds have a time frame of well beyond 10 years in their portfolio investments. Based on that, the current economic developments do not warrant a significant shift," he said.
Kern said portfolio diversification, particularly currency diversification, has been a major priority for sovereign funds, and expected it to remain a key focus going forward.
"I expect that they will take a prudent approach," he said, adding that despite the seriousness of fiscal problems in some euro zone countries he expected the European Union and its member states to manage and see growth prospects back on track in the medium- to long-term. - Reuters
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