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Aberdeen wary on Mena

Aberdeen global emerging markets fund manager Mark Gordon-James has questioned the number of investment firms launching Middle East and North Africa funds.

Gordon-James says some firms are offering funds off the back of two or three years of oil and hydrocarbon revenues, leading to the perception that Mena is uncorrelated to the rest of the market.

He says three key areas – banks, telecoms and oil and petrochemicals – have led Aberdeen to hold back from launching a fund.

He says: “We have viewed 80 to 90 companies in the past couple of years and there are still a number of questions to be answered. Banks in the region are pretty aggressive while corporate governance and financial transparency are both poor. When you go to these places, it is also hard to meet the key executives.

“Telecom firms are highly leveraged and expand very aggressively while oil is a hard subject to call, as seen from the recent volatility in the price.

“There are positives given the reforms but there is so much more room for improvement. We have looked at such an offering and would not rule it out in the future but for now we feel a broader fund would suit investors.”

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