October 28, 2009 / 7:51 AM / 10 years ago

Morocco's Siger says pulled out of Macau

RABAT, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Morocco’s Siger, which controls the country’s biggest conglomerate ONA ONA.CS, said on Wednesday it had pulled its investment out of an overseas fund after finding out it had invested in a Macau gambling firm.

Siger, which manages the Moroccan royal family’s wealth, cited its charter of ethics as the reason for withdrawing its investment from a casino and hotel firm in Macau— the world’s fastest-growing gaming hub.

Siger issued the rare statement in reaction to a report in the South China Morning Post newspaper which on Tuesday named Morocco’s King Mohamed as one of several wealthy investors embroiled in a financial restructuring of loss-making casino and hotel firm Macau Legend.

The newspaper said some 20 wealthy people were sold a $400 million stake in Legend on the assumption they would turn a quick profit from the listing of its subsidiary Fisherman’s Wharf theme park on the Hong Kong stock market.

“Because of the incompatibility of this investment with its charter of ethics, Siger had decided in December 2008 to end the mandate of (the fund) manager and had communicated strictly at that date its intention to pull out of this investment,” Siger said in the statement.

The gambling investment was part of a placement in a “real estate and hotel industry international fund” aimed at diversifying its investments, it added.

The statement did not mention any loss or other financial problem from the investment move and the subsequent withdrawal.

“It turned out later that this fund has an investment in a project in Asia which includes in its components a gaming infrastructure,” it said without naming Macau Legend and its Wharf affiliate.

But industry sources told Reuters the investment involved Macau Legend and its Wharf tourist attraction park subsidiary.

King Mohammed is the only Muslim leader who has the role of head of state and Amir al Mouminine (commander of the faithful) which includes among his responsibilities the protection of the Islamic faith and spiritual security of his fellow citizens.

Islamic Sharia law bans investment in the gambling industry, which is regarded as un-Islamic. (Reporting by Lamine Ghanmi; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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