Kuwait wealth fund hires ex-BofA banker as infrastructure head - sources


By Dinesh Nair

DUBAI, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA),the Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund, has appointed a head forits newly-created infrastructure arm, seeking to bolster itsinvestments in the sector, two sources familiar with the mattersaid.

Hakim Drissi-Kaitouni, previously a vice president at Bankof America Merrill Lynch in London, has joined as amanaging director of Wren House Infrastructure Management, afully-owned unit of KIA, the sources said, speaking on conditionof anonymity as the matter is not public.

The Wren House arm, which was set up in April by the wealthfund and housed under its London-based Kuwait Investment Office(KIO), also hired Marc Keller, another BofA Merrill banker, toassist Drissi-Kaitouni in identifying investments in the sector,one of the sources said.

Both KIO and BofA were not immediately available forcomment.

Sovereign wealth funds in the Gulf Arab region, which holdabout $2 trillion in assets, are beefing up their infrastructureinvestments, lured by stable returns and seeking to diversifytheir investment portfolios which have been traditionally heavyon equities.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), one of theworld's largest sovereign wealth funds, hired John McCarthy, asenior Deutsche Bank AG executive to head itsdivision that handles global infrastructure investments, it saidin May.

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) hired Deven Karnik, themost senior managing director of Morgan Stanley's Asiainfrastructure fund, to head its new infrastructure business, abanking source told Reuters in April.

KIA's unit will initially look for infrastructureinvestments in Britain, and plans to slowly spread its wings toelsewhere in Europe and other global opportunities, the firstsource said.

KIA, which has estimated assets of between $300-$400billion, was part of a consortium that bid for British watercompany Severn Trent earlier this year but the partieswalked away in June after the company refused to engage in talksbefore a bid deadline expired.

The fund has more than doubled its investment in Britainover the past 10 years to over $24 billion, Bader Mohammedal-Saad, managing director of KIA said in June.

The KIO arm manages more than $120 billion globally comparedwith only $27 billion 10 years ago, al-Saad said at the time.

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