Kuwait sovereign fund assets suffer drop

KUWAIT Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:12am GMT

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KUWAIT (Reuters) - The value of assets managed by the Kuwait Investment Authority KIA.L, the Gulf Arab state's sovereign wealth fund, fell by about 9 billion dinars (21.3 billion pounds) in the nine months to December 2008, two MPs said on Tuesday after a government briefing.

Member of Parliament Waleed al-Tabtabae told reporters the government said KIA's losses due to the financial crisis, in the March-December period, totalled 9 billion dinars. Kuwait's fiscal year ends on March 31.

Another MP, Mohammad al-Abdul Jader, who also attended the session, said KIA was managing assets worth about 49 billion dinars at December 31, from about 58 billion dinars at March 31.

The MPs' comments followed the government briefing parliament about the state finances in a closed-door session.

Last year, KIA lost money after buying into U.S. banks Citigroup (C.N) and Merrill Lynch MER.N before both stocks nosedived, the latter bank being sold to Bank of America.

Tabtabae told reporters the value of KIA's investments in both banks had fallen to $2.8 billion, after it had initially bought stock worth $5 billion amid the global financial crisis.

Finance Minister Mustapha al-Shamali and KIA Managing Director Bader al-Saad had earlier briefed parliament about Kuwait's assets as part of a session dedicated to the global crisis. Saad declined to comment after the session.

Since October 2008, KIA has reduced the exposure of its key Future Generation fund to global equities markets, shifting assets to cash funds, the government said in January.

In July, Shamali said the fund -- a nest egg for when oil runs out -- managed assets worth at least 72 billion dinars in the 2007/08 fiscal year.

In December, KIA launched an investment fund worth 1.5 billion dinars to stop a slide on the local bourse, which fell 38 percent in 2008.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Andrew Macdonald)