BlackRock on the hunt for infrastructure deals in the Gulf

People are seen in front of a showroom hosting BlackRock in Davos
FILE PHOTO: People are seen outside a showroom hosting BlackRock in Davos, Switzerland January 22, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

March 30, 2022

By Said Azhar

DUBAI (Reuters) – BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager, is pursuing more infrastructure deals in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region, and also intends to invest in private companies in the region, a senior official said.

The US group, which manages more than $10 trillion in assets, recently led a syndicate purchase of a $15.5 billion stake in Saudi Aramco’s gas pipeline company, after acquiring the pipeline assets of Saudi Aramco a few years earlier energy company ADNOC from Abu Dhabi.

“We’re looking at a lot of these types of opportunities,” Stephen Cohen, head of BlackRock’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division, told Reuters.

“We’re looking at a number of things on the private markets side across the country,” he said, citing unlisted growth companies in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region.

Cohen said BlackRock is also looking across the region for infrastructure investments and what he called “interim financing” to fund long-term sustainable energy projects that help reduce carbon emissions.

Gulf oil producers are considering selling stakes in energy assets and raising cash through long-term leases to capitalize on a recovery in crude oil prices to attract foreign investors


When asked about the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, he said Europe’s move to diversify its energy sources “naturally” leverages the strength of the Gulf region.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, exposure to Russia in its clients’ portfolios was less than 0.2% of BlackRock’s assets under management, Cohen said.

A BlackRock spokesman said in an email on Wednesday that its customers’ exposure to Russia is less than 0.01% after the value of those assets was taken down.

“After the invasion, BlackRock acted quickly to suspend purchases of Russian securities. BlackRock is monitoring the direct and indirect impacts of the crisis and is working with our clients to help them take appropriate investment actions,” said Cohen.

He said the company also intends to expand its team in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It currently has 44 employees in the United Arab Emirates and 15 in Saudi Arabia, BlackRock says.

BlackRock has launched two exchange-traded funds focused on Saudi Arabia and recently advised the kingdom to launch a national infrastructure fund.

(Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by David Goodman) BlackRock on the hunt for infrastructure deals in the Gulf


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