MidEast firms eye $1.4 bln investment in Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 |
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 (Reuters) - A Middle East group led by Gulf Petroleum Ltd Qatar is looking to invest up to 5 billion ringgit ($1.4 billion) in Malaysia, as the country's efforts in attracting the petrodollars appear to be paying off.
The group, which include investment and banking firms from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, is eyeing investments in oil and gas, property and Islamic banking sectors, Gulf Petroleum President Abdul Aziz Hamad Al-Delaimi told reporters in the Malaysian capital on Monday.
"We have come to evaluate and investigate, and see the possibilities of developing business in Malaysia. We anticipate that the issues we are pursuing shall culminate in an agreement before the end of this year," he said. Abdul Aziz said the group was pursuing an option to build an oil refinery in Malaysia, but gave no details.
"The idea is to have a refinery that would utilise crude oil coming from the Middle East," he added.
The group is also looking at acquiring real estates and equity stakes in Islamic financial institutions, he said.
But analysts said it was too early to say whether such evaluation would translate into actual investments. "The government is very committed to bring them in and there are some people who are obviously considering coming in. But they have yet to really bring in the money and put the money to work," said JP Morgan Chase analyst Chris Oh.
"There are many reasons they would come to Malaysia -- from being a highly credible and progressive Muslim country to the fact that Malaysia is trying to put in as many incentives to bring in these people as possible."
The consortium, which plans to make Malaysia their hub for future business in Southeast Asia, was also looking at investment opportunities in neighbouring Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand, Abdul Aziz said.
Middle East investors, flush with petrodollars, have poured billions into Malaysia, a mainly Muslim nation with close political ties to the Middle East, snapping up mobile phone operators, banks, property companies and huge tracts of land.
Last month, a Middle East group that include Abu Dhabi state investment agency Mubadala Development Co and Gulf lender Kuwait Finance House (KFIN.KW) agreed to invest $1.2 billion in Malaysia's Iskandar development zone in southern Johor state which is being developed into a regional centre for industry, tourism, entertainment and luxury accommodation.
In June, Saudi Telecom 7010.SE agreed to buy 25 percent of Malaysia's top mobile phone operator Maxis in a $3 billion deal.
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