Dubai 2017 | FINANCE | B2B

While some investors are merely keen on absorbing—or simply avoiding—structural downturns in the economy, others want to be a part of real, thriving businesses they can witness emerge from the sand.

Shailesh Dash
Founder & Member of the Board
Al Masah Capital
Rohit Walia
Executive Chairman1
Alpen Capital

Which sectors hold the most promising opportunities?

Shailesh Dash When Al Masah started six years ago, it assumed it would be involved in consumer-related segments like healthcare, logistics, and education, where it can provide services with value while assessing where demand will continue to come from. The reforms we are seeing on the back of the drop in oil prices is why we still strongly believe in healthcare, education, logistics, and retail. It is a great time to enter these businesses because there are many legislative changes that have had positive impacts on these segments. As a group we will continue to be in these areas, looking at investors' needs as they change with structural changes to the economy and the wealth that is being created. We will continue to tailor our products to the market's needs. The best businesses to be in today are sectors where you can add value to the economy, create employment, and provide quality services for the right price. That is what populations need, and this is what we have to create or invest.

Rohit Walia Tourism is the country's biggest growth sector. There is nothing specific; we see a lot of hotels coming up, so the expected room rates are a little soft but there is a lot of demand and that is what HH Sheikh Mohammed's philosophy has been; if you create the infrastructure then people will come and use it, and this seems to be what is happening. Our airports are still seeing high levels of arrivals, which adds credence to this philosophy.

What does a typical customer currently want?

SD They look at asset management as financial advice that will help them to diversify their wealth at a lower risk. Every institution has its own particular demand or need. For example, an institution might have had very low returns for the last seven years and might want to invest in alternatives or private equity, while some institutions might only want a fixed return and are therefore very happy with bonds or commercial real estate property. At the same time, some people might only want to invest in real businesses that they can see and feel to be growing, so they can be a part of it. We work with investors, high net-worth individuals, family offices, and young companies that want to be part of the venture capital or SME segment. This is why everybody is needed in the market, because there is space for everybody, whether it is an institution, a high net-worth individual, or a family office. Increasingly, we have seen a lot of bankers changing out of their jobs with the private banks and starting their own boutique firms because they believe the banks do not meet the needs of investor demand. Investors do not want to invest into a lot of debt products and do not only want to be involved with structured products. They want to be part of a real business where they can see and feel that they have a yield. These are the kinds of needs that are not being met by many of these private banks.

RW: In every business, there are some good companies so there is not any one particular area that we are avoiding. In real estate, for example, there are bits and pieces that are doing very well, such as the downtown and canal areas, but there are other areas that are struggling. It depends on which business the client is in. Some of the commodity trading businesses are suffering, which has been a little dangerous due to the huge fluctuation in commodity prices. However, this is purely trading and does not affect the businesses that are driving the economy, per se.