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Albanian-American Enterprise Fund: More than just a charity case

Guy Norton reports from Tirana on the impressive catalogue of successful investments by the Albanian-American Enterprise Fund, one of the leading investors in the Balkan republic.

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NOT-FOR-PROFIT organizations come in all shapes and sizes but they generally have a common characteristic – they’re as dull as ditchwater. That’s certainly not a charge that could be levelled at the Albanian-American Enterprise Fund, which for more than a decade has been fighting the good fight in Albania. What’s more, it has been winning.

Since its creation by the US Congress in 1995 the AAEF has established a swashbuckling reputation, which would be the envy of any self-respecting emerging market hedge fund manager, let alone an offshoot of the US government. Armed with just $30 million in start-up capital, AAEF’s influence is obvious from the moment you step out onto the tarmac at Tirana’s Mother Teresa airport. As Jeffrey Griffin, AAEF’s president and chief executive, points out, with a 21.3% stake the fund has been a key investor in one of the country’s most ambitious development projects. Furthermore, it’s one that was completed on budget and on schedule – a virtually unheard of outcome in Albania where cost overruns and time delays are the norm.

AAEF is one of three partners in Tirana International Airport (TIA), the others being German airport developer Hochtief AirPort and Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft, the German development agency.

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