Cuba looks better from London
Ceiba Investments, a closed-end fund that invests solely in Cuban assets, is set to list its shares on London junior market AIM this month.
Ceiba, the only fund that invests exclusively in Cuba, has already raised its capital to $137.3 million in a share placing in March in the Channel Islands that was 70% oversubscribed despite market turmoil.
"A placing on AIM will improve our liquidity both for those invested in us and to ease our access to the financial markets," says Sebastiaan Berger, fund manager of Ceiba Investments. "The moment an interesting investment opportunity comes up it will be fast and easy to raise money with this London listing. Also, we thought it would be good to broaden our investor base."
The fund is yet another example of the growing interest investors have in Cuba. Since Raul Castro took over power from his brother Fidel on February 24 there has been renewed hope that economic restrictions on the Caribbean island will be relaxed. "The fact that our present capital is relatively small results from the past shortage of opportunities, not from a lack of investor appetite," says Berger.
Change in the air
Since Raul Castro became president, a series of economic reforms have been implemented. Elizabeth Stevens, political risk analysts at insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson, says: "There is a real need to provide flexibility to economic institutions in order to allow changes to take place."