Head of Dubai World threatens to take his money out of Europe

The boss of Dubai World, the powerful sovereign wealth fund, has issued a thinly veiled warning to critics of the $2.5trn (£1.25trn) sector, threatening to take his money elsewhere if the European Union tried to regulate his activities.

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Dubai World's chairman, told the BBC's World at One programme yesterday that initiatives such as the proposed EU code of conduct for SWFs were "dangerous" for countries and companies in need of investment.

"If somebody comes with regulations that make it difficult for someone from certain geographical locations to invest in Europe or the West, people will take their investment somewhere else," he said. "I think it's dangerous when this money and liquidity is so badly needed – we are investors and we are free to go wherever we want. If you squeeze us, we will go elsewhere."

Mr bin Sulayem's comments follow calls from two European commissioners this week for better corporate governance standards and greater transparency from SWFs. Charlie McCreevy, the EU's internal market commissioner, and Joaquin Almunia, the EU's monetary affairs commissioner, said the funds did not make enough disclosures of key financial information and backed calls for a code of conduct for the sector.

The EU's concerns reflect similar anxieties voiced by a number of European and American politicians over the past 18 months, as SWFs have taken a greater number of large stakes in a range of different companies. Two years ago, Dubai World was forced to sell off the US ports owned by P&O when it bought the British company, amid American fears about key infrastructure coming under foreign ownership.

Yesterday, however, Mr bin Sulayem rejected calls for greater regulation of funds such as his, arguing that there had never been an example of an SWF buying up Western companies for political or strategic reasons, rather than on the basis of potential investment returns. "If you put a politician in charge of an investment, believe me, that investment fund will not last for a very long time," he said.

The Dubai World chairman's comments reflect growing anger among the leaders of SWFs at the attacks on their activities. At last month's World Econ-omic Forum in Davos, a string of SWF executives made similar warnings.

Bader al-Sa'ad, managing director of the Kuwait Investment Authority, said: "The KIA has been operating for 55 years and has never made a political decision – we look to the bottom line."

The EU's attempts to curb the power of SWFs are being led by the French and German governments, which have both been openly hostile towards the sector. The UK has offered limited support for calls for more transparency, though ministers have been at pains to make it clear they welcome SWF investment in British companies.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea