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Abu Dhabi Financial Group looking for deals at home

The investment management firm, with $3.2 billion of assets under management, will focus on identifying deals in the United Arab Emirates

By Hadeel Al Sayegh

ABU DHABI, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), which bought London’s New Scotland Yard last December, is looking at potential acquisitions in its home market over the next year as lower oil prices depress asset valuations to enticing levels.

The investment management firm, with $3.2 billion of assets under management, will focus on identifying deals in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), chief executive Jassim Alseddiqi told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi.

“The UAE presents the highest risk-reward attraction at the moment, compared to any other place in the world,” he said.

“The pricing today for the UAE markets, whether it’s real estate, private equities, or public equities, is … extremely attractive compared to any other jurisdiction. So, we are focusing right now our activities in the UAE.”

The company is working on deals in the financial services and real estate sectors, Alseddiqi said without elaborating.

ADFG, which has made significant investments abroad including the development of a plot of land next to London’s Buckingham Palace, also wants to raise its stake in embattled Dubai firm Gulf Navigation to 50 percent from 6 percent, subject to regulatory approval.

“We are in constant discussions with the regulators and will just have to wait and see,” Alseddiqi said, declining to elaborate except to say his company had a track record of buying distressed assets and turning them around.

Shipper Gulf Navigation has been battling with creditors for more than two years after defaulting on loan payments. Integrated Capital, a unit of ADFG, disclosed in August it had built a 5.19 percent stake.

(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Mark Potter)