Saudi Public Investment Fund looks for more global alliances

1 / 2
Public Investment Fund Managing Director Yasir Al-Rumayyan pictured at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh. (AFP)
2 / 2
Updated 25 October 2017
0

Saudi Public Investment Fund looks for more global alliances

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is looking for further international partnerships as part of its ambitious aim to become the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, PIF managing director, said that global investment alliances would be a central part of a four-legged strategy.
He was speaking as PIF formally announced a $20 billion alliance with the US investment fund BlackRock to put money into what he called “conventional investment” like infrastructure and large-scale construction projects, and on top of the $45 billion agreed with Japan’s SoftBank.
“We will continue to see partnerships with the rest of the world, and conventional investments will not go away,” he said at the opening session of a major conference hosted by the PIF in Riyadh, the Future Investment Initiative.
He added that PIF is targeting annual returns of between 3 and 9 percent across its portfolios in the long term.
“PIF is a long-term fund. We are looking beyond cyclicality,” he said.
Al-Rumayyan spelled out the rest of the strategy. “We want to grow and diversify revenue across all investments. We want to localize the economy of Saudi Arabia for the future employment of citizens, and we want to expand in new sectors, like waste management, real estate and entertainment.”
Panelists included the CEO of Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser, BlackRock Chairman Larry Fink, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Victor Chou, CEO of First Eastern Investment Group.
They were quizzed on their outlook for investment returns as individuals and states worldwide grapple with how to ensure sufficient retirement funds during an extended period of low growth across global economies.
Al-Rumayyan said that some assets could reach annual returns in the low teens.
“We don’t want to be a sitting duck to be shot down by only being in conventional investments. We want to go beyond — that is what Vision 2030 is all about,” he said.
He also revealed that he wants the Future Investment Initiative to become an annual event, which would help the Kingdom prepare for the future.
Questioned on the long-term prospects for the oil economy in the face of the renewable and alternative fuels industry, Nasser said it would take decades for the oil and gas industry to be significantly affected by these changes.
BlackRock’s Fink warned: “Long-term growth rates are decelerating quite rapidly and this is going to  present pension funds with bigger liability issues  —  but this is also one of the reasons we have to address this issue of retirement today with expected returns — whether it’s 4, 6 or 8 (percent).
“It means you have to put money away sooner to get to the expected pool of money you want in retirement.”
Asked about his own forecasts for what was possible and realistic as an investment return, he said: “The BlackRock Investor Institute came out with a 10-year forecast of 4 per cent with a balanced portfolio. I tend to think it will be closer to 6 percent.  We’re in a world of low inflation.”
Hundreds of the biggest names in global business are attending the event in Riyadh, which concludes tomorrow.


Japan, Philippines meet to advance infrastructure plans

Updated 21 November 2018
0

Japan, Philippines meet to advance infrastructure plans

  • Japanese loans so far dwarf those of China, whose pledges for projects are still largely ideas
  • Duterte has made a $180 billion infrastructure overhaul the centerpiece of his economic policy agenda, but people are looking for progress

MANILA: Philippine government ministers met with a top adviser of Japan’s prime minister on Wednesday, in a effort to move forward major infrastructure projects, just hours after a visit by the Chinese president pledging to do the same.
Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte has made a $180 billion infrastructure overhaul the centerpiece of his economic policy agenda, but already into the third year of his presidency, he is under some pressure to show signs that his ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program is making much progress.
While attention has been focused largely on fanfare of Duterte’s “pivot” to China and his frequent praise for Beijing’s economic support, agreed Japanese loans so far dwarf those of China, which has pledged billions of dollars of financing and investment for projects that are still largely ideas.
Japan will finance 156.4 billion yen ($1.39 billion) for the construction of a subway in the capital Manila, rehabilitation of one of its troubled elevated rail lines, a new Manila bypass road and a new airport on Bohol, a tourist island.
The loans are part of an 1 trillion yen aid and investment package offered in 2017 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose special adviser, Hiroto Izumi, is in Manila to discuss revamping a railroad across the capital, a flood control system, and jointly operating an industrial zone, Finance assistant secretary Antonio Lambino told Reuters.
Edmund Tayao, a Manila-based political analyst, said the strong performance of the Philippine economy meant it had outgrown its infrastructure, and there was public pressure to modernize it.
“This is a long-delayed requisite,” he said. “When we speak of trains, mass transit systems, disappointment is an understatement. It is frustrating to compare it with neighbors.”
Expectations have been high since Duterte left China two years ago with $24 billion of investment and loans pledges, and there were hopes that this week’s visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first in 13 years, would have seen firm commitments for those to advance.
However, of Tuesday’s 29 agreements, the only loan agreed was $232.5 million financing for a dam. Others counted as deals included two feasibility studies, memorandums of understanding for arrangements that already existed, or a handing over of certificates.
Michael Ricafort, an economist at RCBC bank in Manila, said that with the spotlight on foreign interest in the infrastructure program, the government was keen to show progress was being made.
“The government is now put on the spot. People are looking for the promises to be fulfilled.”