LONDON, Nov 28 (KUNA) -- Under the aegis of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait
Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, a ceremony was held here on Wednesday
to celebrate the Kuwait Investment Office's (KIO) Diamond Jubilee.
HH the Amir was warmly welcomed to the ceremony site by Dr. Nayef Falah
Mubarak Al Hajraf, Minister of Finance, Acting Minister of Education and
Minister of Higher Education.
After the Kuwaiti National Anthem was played at the onset of the
celebration, the minister delivered a speech, welcoming HH His Highness the
Amir of Kuwait; Prince Andrew, The Duke of York; and members of the official
He recalled to memory that in an article written by Paul Edward Case in
December 1952 for the National Geographic Magazine, he praised the Ruler of
Kuwait for his wisdom in managing the oil wealth of Kuwait.
In this article, he stated "... His Highness has elected to use his vast
wealth for the good of all his people ... ." Case had the ability to foretell
the establishment of the Kuwait Investment Authority.
"What was true then is definitely true today. Kuwait's wealth has been used
wisely; for the current as well as for the future generations. We were able to
achieve our goals through the wisdom of our Rulers and through the guidance
which we received from our close friends in the United Kingdom; in the past;
in the present and; Insha'Allah, in the coming decades," the minister said.
This article was soon followed by an agreement signed between His Highness
Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al Sabah and Her Majesty's Political Agency in
Kuwait. The agreement established the Kuwait Investment Board in London on
February 23rd, 1953, he added.
The Kuwait Investment Board is the predecessor of the Kuwait Investment
Office (KIO) in London and of the parent Kuwait Investment Authority in
Kuwait, he elaborated.
From a modest few hundreds of thousands of Pounds deposit in the Bank of
England, KIA now has in excess of 15 billion pounds invested in more than 100
listed UK equities; numerous UK sovereign and corporate credits; as well as in
properties all over Great Britain, he boasted.
He went on to say: "Using London as a base for investing is logical. Our
investment experience over the past 60 years has shown us that the most
favorable location, other than Kuwait of course, is London. It is the center
of the financial universe. Great Britain has numerous advantages which no
other financial center can match. For Kuwait, the sovereign immunity treatment
which the United Kingdom provides ensures that the KIA is overweight in our
investments when compared to UK's share in world GDP contribution."
The KIO is the flagship vehicle which Kuwait uses for its investments, the
minister said. In addition to investing in Great Britain, the KIO is also an
active investor globally, using London as a base. They currently manage funds
in excess of 65 billion pounds globally. This represents a partial amount of
funds under management by the KIA. Kuwait intends to have the KIO take on
additional responsibility and manage more of Kuwait's investments from London,
"London is also home to our global real estate vehicle, St. Martin's. In
addition to being a significant property owner in the City, St. Martin's
invests in all parts of the world, again from London.
Although the KIA is currently a passive investor through various private
equity funds in UK infrastructure projects, such as in Gatwick Airport, we
intend to further strengthen KIO's role in this area. Before year-end or
latest by early next year, we hope to have our global infrastructure team
operational out of the KIO. Their mandate would be to invest in those asset
classes where the KIA has traditionally not been an investor," he noted.
"Let me share with you an area where entities from our two countries could
cooperate to our mutual benefit. Independent rating agencies have given
Kuwaiti Banks one of the highest stand-alone ratings in the world. Based on
the World Economic Forum Competitive Index, Kuwait is ranked second globally
for fiscal prudence and management. Kuwait's sovereign rating is only a notch
below that of Great Britain and comparable to various developed economies," he
The minister voiced much pleasure to invite all interested British entities
to participate in the numerous mega projects in Kuwait's Development Plan,
noting that Kuwaiti banks and vibrant private sector are there to partner with
British corporations. He considered this a win-win situation for all concerned.
He added that the great financial crises since 2008 impacted all countries
globally. Some of the Kuwaiti entities were impacted as well. However, in the
midst of adversity, there are numerous opportunities. Trade and investments
are a two-way street. Kuwait is open for business, and welcomes all UK
He finally thanked all those present in the celebration for attending
today's event, saying that the Kuwait Investment Authority is honored to
celebrate the Office's Diamond Jubilee. He hailed it as a privilege to be able
to celebrate this anniversary in the same year as Her Majesty's Diamond
Jubilee and in the same year when London hosted the extremely successful
Olympics and Paralympic Games.
For his part, His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, also
speaking at the event, hailed HH the Amir's historic visit to the UK.
The Duke of York lauded strong and firm relations between the UK and the
State of Kuwait, especially in trade and economy.
At the outset of the celebration, a documentary on the career of the Kuwait
Investment Office in London was shown. (pickup previous)
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