Middle East investment in Brazil attracting attention

Brazil is attracting the attention of a number of leading Arab property investors and developers according to finance experts.

Even though the share of Arab capital is still small compared with the total volume of foreign funds currently flowing into the Brazilian market, there is growing interest.

Large sovereign funds, such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Kuwait Investment Authority, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, the Dubai International Capital and the State General Reserve Fund, based in Oman have been speaking to major organisations.

'We are being contacted by different customers interested in the Brazilian market,' said Angela Martins, international director at the ABC Brazil bank which is run by the Arab Banking Corporation based in Bahrain.

Experts also report an increased visibility of Brazil in the Arab world, and vice-versa, aided by direct flights between Dubai and São Paulo and the growing availability of funds generated by petroleum in the Arab world.

More and more Brazilian companies are also looking to the Middle East for capital. Banco do Brasil has recently opened an office in Dubai, and Itaú, will soon own premises in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The Arabs are interested not only in the capital market, but in direct investment. According to Felipe Cavalcante, the president of the Association for the Development of Real Estate and Tourism in Northeast Brazil, real estate development in the region is attracting much attention from Arab investors.

His organisation is planning several trips to the Middle East in 2009 to explore possibilities.

The Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce said it has also seen an increase in interest and it has been consulted by a number of Arab companies interested in investing in Brazil.

It is difficult to know exactly how much Arab capital is currently invested in Brazil as official figures disclose only funds coming directly from the region, with no intermediaries.

According to Angela Martins, approximately 70% of the Arab capital that enters the country is invested by third parties, be they investment funds and asset management firms based in the United States or Europe, or subsidiaries of Arab companies located outside of the region.