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I write about emerging and frontier markets in Asia. I now primarily contribute work to Forbes Asia. My most recent work and my complete bio can be found on Forbes Asia's site: If it is easier, you can find my recent work sorted by country on this... More
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  • Middle East North Africa Investing Blog 48 comments
    Dec 22, 2012 11:59 AM | about stocks: FM, PMNA, GAF, GULF, EGPT, FRN

    This blog is about what it says it is.

    Authors are on Seeking Alpha specializing in these countries:

    Irfan Chaudhry (Egypt, Middle East)

    Here's a chart (albeit from the November presentation of a private equity fund in Iraq) with estimated GDP growth for 2013 around the world.

    (click to enlarge)

    At the moment, I'm interested in Libya which has a lot of qualities of a frontier market at an inflection point. (Yeah, that doesn't sound good to me either, but from an investment stand point, that's where it is.)

    Qatar and Kuwait have been all-star investments for a while and make up big chunks of many frontier market funds such as:

    Frontier Markets - iShares MSCI Frontier 100 Index (FM)

    Frontier Emerging Markets (FFD) closed end fund

    In the region, there are also these ETFs:

    (Emerging) Middle East And Africa (GAF)

    Middle East Dividend (GULF) (62.3% in Qatar & Kuwait as of April 27, 2012)

    Middle East North Africa (PMNA) (39.88% in Qatar & Kuwait as of April 27, 2012)

    Yes, I am interested in Egypt (EGPT) too. I have been there twice (1995 and 2010) and I consider our tour guide there from 2010 a family friend. He has been kind enough to have Skype calls with my wife's high school classrooms in the U.S. twice about current events in Egypt. We don't hear from him often, and I wish him and the rest of his country an ever improving future.

    Disclosure: I am investing in Renaissance Offices, a private equity investment in Libya (managed by Kevin Virgil).

    Last updated December 12, 2012

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Comments (48)
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  • Author’s reply » From a friend, "if you want to start learning about Libya then I would recommend checking out the recent investment guide that the Libya Herald produced (link provided below). Very macro, with no actionable investment ideas presented. Good summary of what is coming though."

    11 Dec 2012, 12:53 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » I met with Kevin Virgil on November 27, 2012, who is starting up investment venture(s) in Libya. His first investment vehicle has a minimum investment of $50,000.


    He has interviewed a few times with Capitalist Exploits and you can find all the write-ups about Libya here:


    Obviously, investing in Libya has some inherent risks, and I'm not going to go into it further beyond that. If interested in talking to Kevin, send me an e-mail.
    11 Dec 2012, 12:55 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Iraq will be quite important in coming years. See this article by Devon Shire.


    The Future Of Global Energy Security Rests On The Shoulders Of (Gulp) Iraq

    11 Dec 2012, 10:30 AM Reply Like
  • Last November Marc Faber was in Holland for our annual Investor Day. He recommended buying Coca Cola Iraq. According to his October '12 Gloom, Boom and Doom report he doesn't see great value in Asia at the moment, but he does see it in Iraq (page 12). Recommending the Euphrates Fund (min. $ 250,000). Though there is also a Mesopatamia Fund (min $250,000). I wonder whether the latter minmum also holds for the participations listed at ISX itself.


    However, personally I am more attracted towards the FMG Iraq. With a minimum investment amount of $10,000 it seems most appropriate for my financial situation.


    Gloom, Boom en Doom:


    Iraqi bussiness:


    FMG Iraq Fund:


    By the way, for those who seek a broker to buy Coca Cola Iraq => Rabee Securities:
    25 Dec 2012, 08:02 AM Reply Like
  • Pure coincidence,..
    Today, Bloomberg has also posted an article on the upcoming, largest Iraqi IPO ever and largest mideast IPO since 2008. I really read it after I had posted above...



    Should give Iraqi stock market momentum, as noted by FMG.
    25 Dec 2012, 08:34 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Nice work Schumpeter_1!
    25 Dec 2012, 12:20 PM Reply Like
  • I was curious to see if anyone was intrepid enough to invest in Sudan.
    12 Dec 2012, 12:45 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » The one thing I've learned from my travels is there is always someone intrepid enough. However, in markets like Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, etc, a certain amount of savvy is required. I've met some hedgies who immediately exited a country upon their first incident being held at gunpoint, and others who find the story of the time they were caught in a shootout simply another story to tell. It just depends, like with most investing, on your risk tolerance.


    Thinking about it, I think I know someone who is looking into venture capital in Sudan (also doing work in Zambia & Mongolia). Not sure of the details as he's more of a very pleasant guy to talk to, and he's not looking to raise capital at the moment.


    You might be interested in reading Capitalist Exploits latest post titled Congolia (which oddly compares making money in the DRC to Mongolia today; not sure I buy the comparison, but the stories about Congo are interesting).
    12 Dec 2012, 02:53 PM Reply Like
  • Keith Schaefer, the oil expert, has more to say about Sudanese oil.
    12 Dec 2012, 05:32 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » That's quite a bit going on in East Africa in VB. Interesting stuff. Interesting countries to invest in (or try).
    12 Dec 2012, 05:41 PM Reply Like
  • I have made a (small) investment into a Sudanese oil exploration venture that is managed by Statesman Resources (SRR on the TSX). Info here:
    13 Dec 2012, 12:39 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » (SRRHF.PK) in U.S. which means
    - trades in Canada
    - but can be written about on Seeking Alpha using SRRHF ticker


    Talking out loud for interested authors...


    No articles on it yet. With market cap of $5 million at 16 cents, might require editorial nudging to do an article only about SRRHF.PK... would be easier to write about a basket of stocks in African including SRRHF to get published... but either way is possible.
    13 Dec 2012, 12:57 PM Reply Like
  • More information about Sudanese oil is coming in.
    Perhaps this is a time in which Sudan can diversify its contacts who might be interested in investing in their country.
    22 Dec 2012, 03:59 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Do Africa Funds Provide Access To African Growth?
    by Jan Schalkwijk

    13 Dec 2012, 12:29 PM Reply Like
  • A new Frontier Markets ETF actually has more than half of its investment exposure to the Persian Gulf region. A lot of business people must view the region as being hot property despite the war threats. I have to wonder if they are right about that.
    16 Dec 2012, 02:00 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Top 10 holdings of (FM) and top 10 countries holdings are in


    Here's the full list of holdings


    (You have to figure out the codes for the stock exchanges...
    Kuwait XKUW
    Qatar DSMD
    Abu Dhabi XADS
    Dubai XADS
    Oman XMUS
    Jordan XAMM
    Nigeria XNSA
    Sri Lanka XCOL
    Argentina XNYS
    Kenya XNAI
    Mauritius XMAU
    Romania XBSE
    Pakistan XKAR
    Bangladesh XDHA


    (missed a few codes that weren't obvious to me I'll try to fill in another time)
    16 Dec 2012, 04:29 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » By comparison, the only other ETF or closed-end fund invested in frontier market, Guggenheim Frontier Markets (FRN) has 42.62% invested in Chile,14.4% in Colombia, 9.05% in Peru, & 7.15% in Argentina as of September 30, 2012
    16 Dec 2012, 04:44 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » The 3rd fund in the area no longer exists for retail investors. In September 2012, Morgan Stanly took their Frontier Market closed end fund away from retail investors and it is only available to institutions now.
    16 Dec 2012, 04:45 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » By special request, there's now a separate blog for East Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa
    16 Dec 2012, 05:16 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Have added Irfan Chaudhry (Egypt, Middle East) as an author in this area at the top
    22 Dec 2012, 12:01 PM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » Libya expected to be 3rd fastest growing economy by GDP in 2013 (as per The Economist):
    6 Jan 2013, 08:40 PM Reply Like
  • Arid Libya has a chance to fast track growth in the agricultural sector if the politics in the country allow for it. It can export food to countries which need it. That is mainly because Libya has the fortune to be placed on top of an enormous aquifer.
    6 Jan 2013, 10:43 PM Reply Like
  • Libya was usually the most peaceful backwater in the Roman Empire. The wetter climate back then allowed for some agricultural prosperity. If the country enjoys peace again, the tourism industry should revive partly because Libya has some interesting Roman ruins.
    6 Jan 2013, 10:54 PM Reply Like
  • Libya's oil infrastructure is coincidentally placed in many of the same regions as the water pipelines and aquifer. The two infrastructures must be compatible as far as what can be determined. Libya is placing primary importance on the reconstruction and upgrading of its infrastructures.
    7 Jan 2013, 01:13 PM Reply Like
  • Libya's progress on repairing its oil infrastructure is expected to be choppy in the next couple of years due to various constraints.
    Their progress can be followed in the Libyan business press.
    Turkey is a driving force behind Libya's effort to recover its oil infrastructure and power production. The Turks are aggressively exploring and procuring oil and gas supplies for their improving economy where they can, including Libya.
    12 Jan 2013, 01:19 AM Reply Like
  • Author’s reply » From what I understand Turkey is working on taking on a leadership role in the Middle East, and building up relationships toward that.


    I had been told previously that were heavily involved in Libyan reconstruction, and also that they were doing it the "right way" (meaning that they were building relationships and not just throwing money around... as some other wealthy Middle East nations had tried doing).
    12 Jan 2013, 05:58 AM Reply Like
  • I'm getting that impression, too. I think that it is logical for Turkey to take greater care in their investing and outreach efforts in the nearby countries which used to be part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, including Libya.
    12 Jan 2013, 02:49 PM Reply Like
  • Turkey can and has been a major economic player in the region. This is why they have been valuable as a member of NATO (besides location during the cold war). Unfortunately, NATO has treated Turkey like a red headed step child and the Turks have been complaining for decades. Something else to watch and take into consideration.
    12 Jan 2013, 03:25 PM Reply Like
  • The trade relationship between Libya and Turkey had been growing until the time of the 2011 troubles. It seems that the two countries are picking up where they left off, so to speak.
    12 Jan 2013, 03:43 PM Reply Like
  • I wants to play a larger role in the wider African region, i.e. not only North Africa. There are also present in a large Ethiopian infrastructure project:
    13 Jan 2013, 08:15 AM Reply Like
  • The African countries where Turkey has set up business councils are probably the ones that Turkey is most interested in. They are no doubt wise from their geographic vantage to focus on North Africa and Northeastern Africa.
    13 Jan 2013, 02:11 PM Reply Like
  • It might be interesting to check back later to see if the Chinese will be able to recoup their economic losses resulting from the civil war. I'm curious if their abandoned projects will ever get finished given the current situation with Libyan militias.
    16 Feb 2013, 01:53 AM Reply Like
  • Here's some more commentary on Libya's potential to resurrect its oil and gas industry in trying circumstances.
    1 Mar 2013, 04:14 PM Reply Like
  • Libya is sponsoring a conference in London about its economic renaissance.
    2 Apr 2013, 11:51 PM Reply Like
  • Libya is using generators to increase their power supply while they work on reconstructing their country.
    19 Apr 2013, 03:53 PM Reply Like
  • Many of the Middle Eastern and North African countries have the potential to capture solar radiation for energy in the future. As the technology for energy storage becomes more practical and if and when market forces such as price structures and private investment levels become more favorable for the solar industry, then that area of the world should benefit from it.
    7 Jan 2013, 02:10 PM Reply Like
  • The American government must have that idea in mind for its upcoming trade mission to Egypt and Kuwait. Renewable energy will be one of the prime topics of the mission.
    12 Jan 2013, 02:46 PM Reply Like
  • It may be too early to tell after the recent troubles in Egypt if a lot of American investments will find their way there soon. These two sources should be able tell investors what the case may be over the next couple of years.
    13 Jan 2013, 06:55 PM Reply Like
  • It might be worthwhile to check back later on this telecommunications ipo to see if it will result in long- term success. It might serve as a benchmark for measuring Iraq's economic recovery from the wars aside from the expected increases in oil production.
    12 Feb 2013, 12:13 PM Reply Like
  • Fujairah’s importance grows amid Iran threat to Strait of Hormuz (Financial Times)
    - the tiny emirate most people have never heard off:

    18 Jun 2013, 01:57 PM Reply Like
  • Fujairah definitely has an advantageous geographic situation if peace can hold at the Strait of Hormuz.
    Business is good now that Fujairah is recognized for providing a trading conduit between the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian Subcontinent, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz.


    18 Jun 2013, 02:52 PM Reply Like
  • Here is a current geopolitical situation centered on the Strait of Hormuz which will effect business transactions in that region.
    Fujairah should gain commercial importance partly as a consequence of that and partly because of the new oil pipeline constructed from Abu Dhabi.
    12 Apr, 02:46 PM Reply Like
  • China is working on building a technically challenging transportation corridor from its rugged western region across Pakistan's mountains to directly access the strategic ocean port at Gwadar. Oil and other products from Iraq, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries can then be directly shipped to China, thereby bypassing Singapore and the South China Sea.
    Gwadar faces the Middle East from the east and the Arabian Sea and East Africa from the north.
    7 Jul 2013, 12:17 AM Reply Like
  • Gwadar's deepwater port is expected to be the focus of Pakistan's coastal economic development for many years into the future.
    7 Jul 2013, 01:16 AM Reply Like
  • Gwadar is the main port of mineral rich Baluchistan. The local Baluch seek control of the port for their own internal economic development.
    7 Jul 2013, 01:55 AM Reply Like
  • Iran takes a look at Gwadar and beyond and sees troublesome scenarios.
    17 Oct 2013, 02:10 PM Reply Like
  • Trading links between China and the MENA Region are increasing in value.
    7 Jul 2013, 12:40 PM Reply Like
  • A new Seeking Alpha contributor has some things to say about some Middle East oil stocks.
    22 Oct 2013, 03:05 PM Reply Like
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