* Malaysia’s KWAP invests $30 million in Uber - sources
* Uber is the pension fund’s first tech investment
* Fund also sees buying opportunities following Brexit vote
By Liz Lee
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s $30-billion pension fund, Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP), is looking to pump in more money into technology firms, following its recent foray into the sector with an investment in what sources have identified as ride-sharing service Uber.
KWAP, Malaysia’s second biggest pension fund with 123 billion ringgit ($29.74 billion) of assets under management, is diversifying into new sectors at a time when returns across its investments have slowed.
The pension fund has committed to a $30-million investment in its “first disruptive technology deal” in a foreign firm, its chief executive officer, Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad, told Reuters in an interview. It is a “global technology company with a market value of over $60 billion”.
“This is our first investment in this space, and we want to continue building our expertise in this area,” the CEO said.
While Wan Kamaruzaman did not reveal the name of the firm, two sources close to the deal said KWAP had recently invested the amount in Uber Technologies Inc. The sources did not want to be named as the deal was still under wraps.
A financing round earlier this year valued Uber at $62.5 billion. The U.S. firm has been operating in Malaysia since 2013.
Uber did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
Like KWAP, other Malaysian government-linked funds have also been investing more in tech assets, such as Khazanah Nasional Bhd that has put money in Alibaba, Skyscanner and WeLab.
KWAP expects a 5 percent return on total investment this year. It posted a return of 5.4 percent last year, lower than a targeted 6 percent.
“This lower-for-longer climate is prevailing. We think we are able to achieve a 5 percent target. To our standards in the current environment, that is still good,” Wan Kamaruzaman said.
Around 90 percent of KWAP’s investments are in traditional assets such as fixed income and equity. The remaining 10 percent goes to alternative investments such as private equity, but the CEO said the fund may increase that allocation to 15 percent.
Wan Kamaruzaman said the fund intends to increase exposure in logistics, healthcare, education and consumer goods, adding that it also sees opportunities in the UK where a Brexit vote has weakened the sterling and dented asset prices.
KWAP, which has 250 million pounds ($324.50 million)allocated for UK equities investment, is looking to add more UK properties to its portfolio, the CEO said.
“Brexit has weakened the sterling, giving a 15 percent discount to investments in that currency. The tourism industry there is very vibrant, and the impact of Brexit could be positive to selected sectors,” he said. ($1 = 4.1360 ringgit) ($1 = 0.7704 pounds) (Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by A. Ananthalakshmi and Himani Sarkar)