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Cablegate: Government of Bahrain Strengthening Investment

VZCZCXRO7609
PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHMK #0559 2380639
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 250639Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8072
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0280
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 2868
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAMA 000559

SIPDIS

BAGHDAD FOR AMBASSADOR ERELI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/2018
TAGS: ECON EINV BA
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT OF BAHRAIN STRENGTHENING INVESTMENT
TIES TO US AND SAUDI ARABIA

Classified By: CDA Christopher Henzel for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1.(C) Summary: The GOB's official investment arm, Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, is diversifying its portfolio by investing $500 million in U.S. companies. In addition to outward investment, Mumtalakat is divesting a significant portion of its holdings in previously state-owned enterprises and the primary investors appear to be the government of Saudi Arabia and related Saudi companies. End Summary.

2.(C) On August 14, Mumtalakat announced it had taken out a $500 million loan -- its first capital financing debt. Mumtalakat Deputy CEO Mahmood Hashim Al Kooheji told econoff on August 20 that the loan was a step in Mumatalakat's long-range plan to diversify its portfolio away from Bahrain. He said that this first $500 million will be invested in a U.S. company to be announced before December. The rumors at Mumtalakat are that the target U.S. company is in the telecommunications sector. (Note: Mumtalakat's present portfolio is heavily weighted towards Bahraini holdings. Of its roughly $10 billion in holdings, 98 percent is currently in Bahraini enterprises including majority stakes in parastatals Gulf Air and Aluminum Bahrain (ALBA), and significant minority stakes in companies such as Bahrain Telecommunications (BATELCO) and National Bank of Bahrain.)

3.(C) Kooheji, who also serves as the Chairman of ALBA, told econoff that when Mumtalakat sells off its majority stake in ALBA (in line with its FTA commitments), Saudi Industrial Development Corporation (SADIC) would likely buy a significant portion of the company prior to a public offering.

4.(C) Mumtalakat announced on August 24 that they were divesting their 37 percent share in BATELCO. Although the buyer has not been finalized, the leading bids are currently Saudi Telecom's Al-Jawal, and the UAE's Etisalat. If Al-Jawal wins the bid, it will be yet another indication of strengthening Saudi investment ties in Bahrain. ********************************************* ******** Visit Embassy Manama's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX********************************************* ******** HENZEL

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