Iraq studying possibility of Russian wheat imports

Iraq spends billions of dollars annually for food rationing, the Public Distribution System, to supply subsidized bread and other essential foods to its population. (AFP)
Updated 13 November 2018
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Iraq studying possibility of Russian wheat imports

  • Iraq needs an annual wheat supply of between 4.5 million and five million tons
  • The country spends billions of dollars annually on a Saddam-era program for food rationing

BAGHDAD: Iraq, a major Middle East grain importer, said late on Monday it wanted to allow Russian origin wheat imports in its state buying tenders.
Trade Minister Mohammed Hashim Al-Aani said he would send representatives to Russia to study its wheat quality and its suitability for use in Iraq’s massive food rationing program.
“The ministry will send a delegation to Russia to study the mechanisms of wheat production ... in order to paint a picture of its quality and types and how suitable it is for use within the subsidy card system,” he said in a statement.
The minister made the comments after a meeting with the Russian ambassador to Iraq.
Iraq needs an annual wheat supply of between 4.5 million and five million tons, and has an import gap of around two million tons a year.
The country spends billions of dollars annually on a Saddam-era program for food rationing, the Public Distribution System, to supply subsidized bread and other essential foods to its population.
Iraq’s grain board imports its wheat mostly from the US, Australia and Canada. It is one of the few markets in the Middle East, alongside Saudi Arabia, that does not import from Russia, one of the world’s largest grain exporters.
Black Sea sellers have provided stiff competition to the US in North Africa and the Middle East and won market share in recent years.
Iraq’s grain board chief told Reuters in March that Russian wheat quality may not be suitable for the production of flour for the rationing program because of the nature of its gluten content.
However, Al-Aani, who was appointed trade minister in October and oversees the grain board, said Iraq wants Russia to participate in its state tenders.
The grain board regularly announces international purchasing tenders to import wheat for the food rationing program, which covers flour, cooking oil, rice, sugar and baby milk formula and was created in 1991 to combat UN economic sanctions.


Actis takes on management of two Abraaj funds

Updated 15 July 2019
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Actis takes on management of two Abraaj funds

  • US prosecutors have in recent months charged several executives of Abraaj with criminal charges, accusing them of taking part in a massive scheme to defraud investors

DUBAI:Actis said on Monday it had acquired the rights to manage two private equity funds previously managed by collapsed buyout firm Abraaj, in a deal aimed at strengthening its position in the Middle East and Africa.

Actis will take over the management rights to Abraaj Private Equity Fund IV and Abraaj Africa fund III, it said in a statement.
Abraaj, which filed for provisional liquidation in June 2018, was the largest buyout fund in the Middle East and North Africa until it collapsed last year in the aftermath of a row with investors over the use of money in a $1 billion health care fund.
The transaction includes investments in 14 portfolio companies across the two funds, Actis said.
“This Abraaj transaction further bolsters Actis’ footprint in the growth markets and follows the addition and integration of Standard Chartered’s Principal Finance Real Estate business in Asia in 2018,” it said.

BACKGROUND

Abraaj, which filed for provisional liquidation in June 2018, was the largest buyout fund in the Middle East and North Africa.

Actis now has $12 billion under management and more than 250 people across 16 offices.
The Actis transaction comes after the finalization of two other Abraaj deals — the transfer of management of the $1 billion health care fund to US buyout fund TPG and the sale of Abraaj’s Latin America fund to Colony Capital.
NBK Capital Partners, owned by Kuwait’s biggest lender, walked away from advanced talks to buy a global credit fund previously managed by Abraaj, Reuters reported last month.
US prosecutors have in recent months charged several executives of Abraaj with criminal charges, accusing them of taking part in a massive scheme to defraud investors.