MENA special: Sovereign wealth funds are national treasures

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority
AUM: $828 billion

The second-largest SWF in the world after Norway’s, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, the $828 billion juggernaut from Abu Dhabi allocates 8 percent of its assets to private equity, according to PEI data. Its business is focused on three regions – Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific – and five key sectors: financial services, healthcare, industrials, technology and consumer. The fund has had a quiet couple of years after making big investments in 2015. It has, however, been building up its direct investment capabilities to be able to work alongside GPs.

Kuwait Investment Authority
AUM: $595 billion

The oldest SWF in the world, formed in 1953, KIA allocates around 10 percent to private equity. It will not invest in North American private equity funds below $1.5 billion in size, emerging markets funds below $1 billion or European funds below €2 billion. In February the fund appointed a new managing director, Farouk Bastaki, who had been heading up the fund’s alternatives business. At the World Economic Forum in January, then-head Bader Al Saad said the SWF plans to manage more of its assets in-house, bringing the current 1-2 percent up to as much as 8 percent.

Qatar Investment Authority
AUM: $335 billion

QIA is slowly regaining its appetite for big deals after a few years of circumspection driven by the oil price collapse. In the past few years it has been looking to increase its investment in the US and Asia, mainly through direct investments, media reports suggest. It has been upping its exposure to the safe haven of real estate, and in May 2017 became the ninth largest owner of commercial property in New York City, according to rankings by real estate information provider CoStar.

Mubadala Investment Company
AUM: $125 billion

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company, announced in June 2016, is the result of a merger of Mubadala Development Company and Petroleum Investment Company. In April it contributed $15 billion to SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund, which will be the largest-ever technology-focused fund. Later that month it announced it would manage third-party capital for the first time through a $1.5 billion directs, co-investments and fund commitments vehicle that was backed in part by investment firm Ardian (see p. 38).

Public Investment Fund
AUM: $183 billion


For a fund with such a hefty AUM, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund kept a low profile until last year, when it announced a $3.5 billion investment in Uber and became the largest investor in SoftBank’s $100-billion Vision Fund with $45 billion. In May, the fund signed a memorandum of understanding to commit $20 billion to Blackstone's new infrastructure fund, set to be about $40 billion. PIF is an important driver behind Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the plan to diversify its economy, and in November was given an extra 100 billion riyals ($27 billion; €24 billion) by the government.