Abraham Merchant and Kenneth Kuhn, managing directors of Global Capital Investments, have launched the Iraq Fund.
The fund will invest primarily in listed equities of the Iraq Stock Exchange and up to 20 per cent of its assets in private, less liquid, early-stage investment opportunities that focus on Iraq’s infrastructure and natural resources.
Merchant and Kuhn say recent trends in Iraq make the petroleum-rich country a compelling investment opportunity.
“As Iraq’s economy transitions, it is in the process of adopting legal and regulatory reforms that will make its financial markets more attractive to outside investors,” says Merchant. “Interest rates have fallen from 20 per cent to six per cent annually, exports have risen, the dinar is stabilising, and the country has minimal national debt
The stock markets of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a federation made up of six countries that neighbour Iraq, have market caps on average that are 70 to 100 per cent of GDP. Iraq’s current market cap, by contrast, stands at USD3.5bn, or 3.5 per cent of its USD100bn GDP. According to IMF estimates, Iraq’s GDP is expected to outpace its GCC neighbours in coming years.
"Only a fraction of Iraq’s known fields are in development while 80 per cent of the country remains unexplored. As redevelopment progresses, it will further strengthen the overall economy for the Iraqi people," says Kuhn.