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Dubai significant investment into sony { November 26 2007 }

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Dubai fund takes stake in Sony
By Simeon Kerr in Dubai and Mariko Sanchanta in Tokyo

Published: November 26 2007 11:23 | Last updated: November 26 2007 18:56

Dubai International Capital continued its thrust into Asia, unveiling a “significant investment” in Sony on Monday.

The high-profile Gulf investor has been trying to raise the Asian component of its portfolio to 30 per cent as it seeks to diversify its holdings away from Europe, the US and the Middle East.

DIC declined to reveal the value of the stake, made through its $2bn Global Strategic Equities Fund that bought into HSBC and EADS this year but it is likely to form less than 5 per cent, as any greater holding would have to be reported to the authorities in Japan.

“This fund invests in large caps – we typically take positions of $500m-$1bn,” Sameer al-Ansari, DIC’s chief executive, told the FT recently. A $1bn investment would represent a 2 per cent stake.

The focus on Asia comes amid a broader move by cash-rich Arab investment vehicles to increase overseas assets away from the US, given the weakening dollar and rising trade flows between the oil-rich Middle East and fast-growing Asia.

DIC, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, wants to double its $12bn of assets under management to $25bn over the next few years, with Asia currently forming about 20 per cent of the firm’s global portfolio.

The investment in Sony goes beyond a traditional Asia play, said Mr Ansari, given the global nature of the group’s business – unlike DIC’s $750m stake in Indian bank ICICI, the revenues of which depend on Indian economic growth.

DIC has plans to make joint investments in target Asian markets, such as China and India, tying up with partners who have on-the-ground experience in the region.

Sir Howard Stringer, Sony’s chief executive, said: “We are happy that the DIC has recognised the strength of the Sony brand as well as our unique competitive advantage in having both entertainment and electronics assets to drive our businesses forward in the digital age.”

Sony shares gained 4.6 per cent on Monday, outstripping a broader 1.7 per cent gain in the benchmark Nikkei 225 index.

Although Sony is on track to meet its 5 per cent operating margin target this year promised by Sir Howard, analysts are concerned that the prolonged losses in its games unit – in the red for seven straight quarters – are stymieing more robust results at the electronics conglomerate.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

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