x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Guinness family office woos UAE investors

Iveagh promotes its retail fund as way to diversify holdings

Chris Wyllie, partner and head of portfolio management for Iveagh Wealth Fund, says his company is warming up in Dubai.
Chris Wyllie, partner and head of portfolio management for Iveagh Wealth Fund, says his company is warming up in Dubai.

The UK investment house set up by the Guinness family is scouting for investors for its retail fund in a sign of renewed interest in the region from international companies. Expatriates looking to widen their investment base away from property are among the investors in the UAE the company is hoping to attract to its wealth management fund, said Chris Wyllie, a partner and the head of portfolio management at Iveagh, which is based in London.

"We are beginning to warm up in Dubai and accessing the financial intermediaries," said Mr Wyllie. "We are looking for people earning their crust and making plans for the future." As the family office of Guinness, Iveagh has managed the financial assets of the Irish brewer for four years. Iveagh Trustees, the firm's previous incarnation, was voluntarily wound up by the Guinness family in 2005 after managing the brewer's assets since the firm's listing on the London Stock Exchange in the 19th century.

Iveagh also has a retail investment business with a fund worth about £220 million (Dh1.22 billion) with investors from the Middle East, Europe, the UK and Asia. Representatives of Iveagh are in the region to meet prospective clients for the fund, which invests across all major asset classes in global markets including stocks and bonds. Iveagh's visit to the region is a sign of renewed interest from western wealth management funds in looking for potential investors in the Gulf after the global financial crisis.

Although the Guinness family assets are locked in trust and managed outside the retail investment fund, the concept of investors having their money managed using the same strategy as the famous family was appealing to investors, said Mr Wyllie. "People like the fact that it's endorsed by the Guinness family," he said. "They also like the fact its regulated in the UK by Financial Services Authority, has daily liquidity so they are not bound into it forever and a day and it is all encompassing across all asset classes."

The declines in the UAE's property market may encourage investors to consider looking for opportunities in other asset classes, he said. Property prices in Dubai have fallen at least 50 per cent from their highs in 2008, with some forecasts of a further drop of 20 per cent this year. "We know what's going on in the property market," Mr Wyllie said. "But people are still earning their salaries and still making provision for the future but perhaps thinking more in a broader remit than in recent years.

"When it was incredibly easy to make money out of Dubai property, people were of the opinion that why should they worry about diversification when they can make money easily on their doorstep. In times like these people can see the point of investing globally." Although Iveagh has investments in global markets, its portfolio does not include the Middle East. "It's on our radar," he said. "We have considered [the] MENA [region] before and this is one of the asset classes we consider alongside all others."

Iveagh's fund targets a return on its investments of about 10 per cent a year. The fund posted losses of 2 per cent in 2008, before moving back into positive territory last year with returns of 5.5 per cent. @Email:tarnold@thenational.ae