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First Gulf Bank offers long-term hedge

Abu Dhabi taps its own funds

By Mark Ford

Stock markets in the United Arab Emirates have suffered dramatic falls over recent weeks after a sustained period of sharp gains. This provides an appropriate background for the launch by an Abu Dhabi-based bank of a locally focused hedge fund whose objective is even, long-term returns and a hedge against market volatility.

First Gulf Bank claims it now has the first open-ended, macro-strategy hedge fund managed by a UAE-headquartered bank. Known as Al Saqer, Arabic for ‘falcon’, the FGB fund launched on January 23 2006 and aims to offer investors absolute returns with low volatility and a low correlation to traditional asset classes, such as equities and bonds.

Al Saqer’s macro-strategy means it is “not being limited to any one asset class, market, trading style or instrument,” says FGB’s CEO, Andre Sayegh. He says the fund will enjoy “extraordinary flexibility regarding investment policy and investment strategies” and that the fund conforms to the bank’s “strategy of offering clients sophisticated products”. Sayegh says he believes the fund is unique and might invest in the burgeoning property markets of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“Hedge funds are not restricted to any one asset class,” says Zafar Habib Khan, FGB’s chief investment officer.

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