Stephen Alexander: My business week

The chairman and chief executive of Brooklands Securities, says Middle East investors will drive the markets this year
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The Independent Online

With the price of oil continuing to rocket, the amount of money swishing around the Middle East and Asia is at an all-time high. So it seems inevitable that investors from these regions will shape the global markets, and this looks set to be the year when we really see the power of the East to bail out the West.

A case in point came at the end of 2007, when UBS announced a $10bn (£5bn) write-down and a massive injection of funds from Singapore and the Middle East as it grappled with the sub-prime crisis. The Swiss bank secured funding from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority at a time when the Gulf states are thriving and Europe and America are feeling the pinch.

The Middle East has remained immune from the credit crunch, not least because the money men in the region prefer solid companies as investment vehicles and have so far avoided the kind of complex financial instruments that caused the meltdown last summer.

Middle East investors are looking for quality homes for their petro-dollars, and if Europe's big institutions hit more problems, they will be among the prime candidates. There is also interest in putting cash to work on trophy projects and opportunities with a social or environmental bent. Brooklands Securities in Bahrain is involved in a project to produce an organic chemical to clean polluted waters, and the funds are being poured in from the Gulf.

Western financial institutions have been slow to appreciate the power of these investors, but with oil changing hands at $100 a barrel,

2008 is the Chinese Year of the Rat, but for the rest of us in the global financial markets, there is little doubt it will be the Year of the East.

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