Trade Bank of Iraq to Launch Private Equity Fund

The state-run Trade Bank of Iraq plans to set up a $500 million private-equity fund to invest in projects in the country, and will next month look to identify a global player to act as the fund's general partner, according to a report from Reuters.

Hussein Al-Uzri, president and chairman of the bank, said it aims to launch the private-equity fund this year, which will invest in medium-sized projects in industries including oil services, power and hotels.

The bank also plans to open branches this year in London and Beirut, and eventually aims to open offices in North America, east Asia, and possibly China, as Iraq attempts to attract investment to fund its rebuilding.

"Iraq will need major investment in infrastructure -- in housing, oil, power, and so this will need capital investment into the country, and we are counting on the private sector, both Iraqi and foreign, to participate," Uzri told Reuters.

Iraq expects private investment to triple to $30 billion this year, a senior government official told Reuters last month. Overall, Iraq needs $600 billion of investment to rebuild, according to the National Investment Commission (NIC).

Launched in 2003, Trade Bank of Iraq has been widening its product offerings beyond trade finance and plans to add eight domestic branches this year to its current 15, Uzri said.

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