Trade Bank of Iraq to Launch Private Equity Fund

The bank had $15 billion in assets at the end of 2010, a level it aims to expand by about 15 percent this year. It earned net profit of $386 million last year, and is looking to increase that by about 20 percent in 2011.

Uzri, who was in the Indian capital for a global banking industry conference, declined to identify the firms on the short list to help manage the planned private-equity fund, which intends to raise money from investors.

"What we want is somebody that is of course recognised internationally but at the same time, that they would invest time and money in Iraq," Uzri said.

"We want to make sure that for them, this is ... strategic, they want to come here, they want to put people in, and time," he said.

Security remains a concern for investors in Iraq, and Trade Bank of Iraq's headquarters was devastated by a deadly bomb blast last year.

Still, Uzri said it has become much easier to pitch the Iraq investment story than during 2005-2007.

"Almost every day we have visitors from abroad coming in," he said.

Once a privatisation law is passed, the bank eventually intends to bring in investors to take a minority stake, with a foreign strategic investor a possibility, he said.

(Source: Reuters)

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