Weekend Giant Reading, May 2–4, 2014

Here’s what’s been going on this week down on the Avenue of Giants.


Here now, the news:

- Infrastructure: The African Development Bank is launching a $3 billion infra fund for Africa that will look to tap pensions / SWFs as LPs. Do it.

- Geopolitics I: According to the CEO of Norway’s massive SWF, “Countercyclical investing doesn’t work when the risks are geopolitical.” And so... he’s selling out of Russia.

- Geopolitics II: The US state department has expressed “dissatisfaction” to Bahrain for Mumtalakat’s recent announcement of plans to collaborate with the Russia Direct Investment Fund.

- The Fee Machine: The Australian super funds are particularly good at... keeping the financial services sector fat and happy.


- Islamic Finance: Malaysia’s Khazanah is looking to do another $1 billion sukuk.

- Impact: The Oman Investment Fund struck a $160 million deal with the Qataris to bring a bus assembly plant to Oman.

- Timber: The Harvard Management Corp is taking heat over its timber investments in Argentina.

- Are You Surprised?: Private equity GPs and hedge funds are charging you for a lot of things they have no right to charge you for.

- Real Estate I: Tamasek’s Mapletree recently did a “multi-billion dollar deal” with Oakwood to buy and develop ‘serviced apartments’. There are rumors that the new vehicle will be called “Treewoody Worldwide”.

- Real Estate II: Malaysia’s Khazanah will be a cornerstone investor in the Philippine-listed mass housing developer 8990 Holdings.

- Governance I: Iran’s SDF, the National Development Fund, is looking to better understand the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds and is trying to learn more about the Santiago Principles. Positive.

- Governance II: The Punjab Pension Fund may be “directed’” to invest in a local energy infra project alongside Chinese developers. Negative.

- Greener Pastures: Leo De Bever is retiring from AIMCo. He’ll be missed.

- Why I Do What I Do: According to The Economist, “Some of the greatest fortunes in the modern world have been accrued by those who look after other’s money.” And, as a result, how many brilliant people have been pulled away from other industries and disciplines in a bid to chase the rent seeking riches of financial services? Too many if you ask me. I recently met a dude who used to be a NASA aerospace engineer (!) and left to make “real money” as a personal financial advisor. I damn near shed a tear.

And on that tragic note... Have a great weekend!