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Five takeaways from the Adia annual report

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s latest annual report has some unusually precise detail in it. It tells us about positions, internal structures, use of external managers and views around infrastructure and private equity at one of the world’s most powerful institutional investors.

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On Wednesday, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (Adia) released its annual report for 2020. As always, there’s a tantalizing amount missing from the report – total assets under management, precise asset class allocations rather than ranges, for example – but there are always a few nuggets of considerable interest and we think this is the most open and information-rich report to date. Here’s our pick:

1. Returns

Returns in 2020 were so good they’re clearly visible even over multi-decade timeframes. Adia only reports two performance numbers, for 20 years and 30 years annualized. As of December 31 2020, the figure was 6% for 20 years and 7.2% for 30.

That’s a notable increase from the figures at the end of 2019, which were 4.8% and 6.6% respectively. Clearly, part of the reason is the remarkable bounce in most asset classes after the corrections of February and March 2020. But a letter from Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the managing director, which prefaces the report, also says it has to do with years that have dropped out of the calculations from the start of those timeframes.

Adia’s alternative investments department completed more transactions in 2020 than in any previous year

In terms of specific positions, one interesting move was a drive in to listed infrastructure companies that were oversold in the market correction early in the year.

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