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Abu Dhabi Boosts Stake in Daimler

March 25, 2009

Islamics can destroy the Western auto industry by manipulating oil prices.  Now they’re buying and owning western auto industries.  Our only weapon?  Don’t buy their product and watch how many they can sell in the Muslim world.

Don

multiple articles:

Abu Dhabi boosts stake in Daimler investment firm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A company owned by the government of Abu Dhabi has pumped an additional $1.41 billion into Aabar Investment PJSC, giving the emirate majority control in the investment firm set to become Daimler AG’s biggest shareholder.

The announcement Monday came a day after Abu Dhabi-based Aabar — an investment vehicle set up by the Persian Gulf sheikdom — said it would pay nearly euro2 billion ($2.72 billion) for a 9.1 percent stake in the German automaker best known for its Mercedes-Benz brand.

Aabar differs from many of the oil-rich Persian Gulf’s sovereign wealth funds in that some of its shares are publicly traded. That arrangement is expected to continue, although the government will now have a clear controlling interest in Aabar.

In a statement Monday, Aabar said Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Co. has finished buying 5.18 billion dirhams ($1.41 billion) in Aabar bonds that will be converted into ordinary shares.

IPIC is fully owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven semiautonomous city-states comprising the UAE and holder of most of the Persian Gulf country’s vast oil wealth. Abu Dhabi is the federation’s capital.

Monday’s announcement follows a similar cash injection worth about $408 million by IPIC last month. Once the latest stock conversion is complete, IPIC will own 71 percent of Aabar, up from about 36 percent now.

Officials from Aabar and IPIC did not immediately respond to request for comment.

IPIC is chaired by Sheik Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a prominent member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, which controls the United Arab Emirates presidency. He led the takeover of English football team Manchester City and joined Qatari investors in pumping billions of dollars into British bank Barclays PLC last year.

The Daimler deal appears to be Aabar’s biggest overseas investment yet.

In December, Aabar agreed to buy American International Group Inc.’s Swiss-based wealth management arm AIG Private Bank Ltd. According to its annual report, Aabar paid 307 million Swiss francs ($273 million) for the bank and assumed about 100 million Swiss francs worth of debt.

Aabar will become Daimler’s largest shareholder. The automaker’s second-largest owner is Kuwait’s primary sovereign wealth fund, which has a 6.9 percent stake.

———————————–

German groups seek Mideast cash to fend off hostile investors

By Daniel Schäfer in Frankfurt, Andrew England in Abu,Dhabi and Richard Milne in London

Financial Times | 24 Marcy 2009

Published: March 24 2009 02:00 | Last updated: March 24 2009 02:00

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German companies are looking eastwards. Daimler’s move to bring in Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments is seen by many as a showcase of how large German industrial groups are turning to the Middle East in search for cash, anchor investors and growth opportunities.

The global economic recession has made many German blue-chip companies, which often have a large free float, vulnerable to attacks from hostile shareholders and has spurred the need for fresh equity to bolster their balance sheets.

“There are a lot of German companies searching for anchor investors at the moment,” the head of German operations at a large investment bank said.

Some, such as the debtridden German car parts maker Schaeffler, have been desperately banging on the doors of Gulf funds and other sovereign wealth investors in Asia without being allowed in.

Gulf sovereign investment vehicles, boosted by soaring oil prices, had been particularly active until recently – most visibly with investments in ailing western banks, but also across asset classes and geographical areas.

However, the collapse in oil prices and plunge in global stock markets have resulted in a more cautious approach.

A senior official at the Qatar Investment Authority, for example, recently said it would hold off on investments over the next six months.

But one general trend that benefits both sides remains intact: the quest for value investments in companies that are technologically at the forefront and that can help Gulf countries to expand their domestic economies.

A blueprint for such deals has come from the US, where General Electric last year announced a deal with Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s increasingly powerful investment vehicle.

Under the agreement, Mubadala bought a stake in GE and has created an €8bn ($11bn) joint venture with the company’s finance arm in the Middle East

Siemens, the German industrial conglomerate, has been talking to investors from the Middle East and Russia for a while about a similar deal that could strengthen its long-term investor base and boost its growth opportunities in the Gulf.

Peter Löscher, Siemens’ chief executive and a former GE manager, told colleagues last year that he was particularly struck by the GE deal.

“I think we could see a new paradigm. These investors don’t have to take over the company, but could acquire a portfolio of stakes in the best industrial companies,” he said.

“They have the money and a big market, so it is a double advantage.”

Similar deals to GE’s have followed. A couple of months ago, MAN, the German truck and engineering conglomerate, spun off 70 per cent of its industrial service unit to Aabar to create a joint venture in the sector.

The Daimler investment is only the latest example of such a deal, but it will not be the last.

Khadem Al-Qubaisi, Aabar’s chairman, told the Financial Times on Sunday that the investment company was interested in buying into further German companies in the near future.

“There are a few companies on the list,” Mr Al-Qubaisi said, praising German companies for their technology, management and skilled workforces.

“We want to buy value and high quality assets,” he said.

He said there was interest in a petrochemical company in Germany, but gave no further details.

Dieter Zetsche, Daimler’s chief executive, told the FT in October that it had been approached by several investors from the “east and south-east” that would like to make big investments in the company.

A Gulf-based banker added he expected the funds to be more “opportunistic,” with a focus on where they felt there was value.

He said they remained in an “enviable position,” in spite of the losses they have suffered in the market turmoil.

————————

Daimler deal fuels rival makers

By Emmanuelle Smith and Miles Johnson | Financial Times March 24 2009 02:00

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Shares in Daimler rose yesterday after Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments agreed to take a 9 per cent stake in the German luxury carmaker.

The €1.9bn deal sparked fresh speculation that other Middle Eastern investors might have their sights on European companies damaged by the downturn.

Daimler shares gained 1.4 per cent to €21.64. Elsewhere in the sector, BMW rose 2.8 per cent to €22.60 while Volkswagen rose 1 per cent to €212.24.

French carmaker Renault ‘s shares increased 3.7 per cent to €15.56. The group was upgraded by Goldman Sachs, the broker, from “sell” to “neutral”. French peer Peugeot , however, was downgraded from “neutral” to “sell” – its shares fell 2.4 per cent to €15.92.

Goldman Sachs said the valuations of western European car manufacturers made this the “best buying opportunity in 10 years” and upgraded its sector coverage to “attractive”.

“We now see light at the end of the tunnel,” the broker said in a note, adding that “car sales declines troughed in February”.

“Historically, such troughs have marked highly attractive entry points, preceding both absolute and sector-relative performance,” it said.

Edmund Shing, European equities strategist at BNP Paribas, was more circumspect. He said of the Daimler deal: “The sector will clearly benefit in the short term, but the need to reinforce balance sheets implies that carmakers anticipate conditions remaining awful.”

He added that, in spite of measures such as France’s €7.8bn state aid package, there would “nonetheless be a sharp retrenchment in consumer spending”.

In the wider market, the pan-European FTSE Euro-first 300 index rose 3 per cent to 739.52, with insurers and banks adding the most points, as they anticipated, and then digested, details of the US Treasury’s toxic asset plans. The French CAC 40 gained 2.8 per cent to 2,869.57 and the Dax was up 2.6 per cent to 4,176.37.

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