* IPO for Poti port in Georgia in 2011
* Profits in first half of 2010 more than 2009 by 25 percent
RAS AL KHAIMAH, United Arab Emirates, July 20 (Reuters) - The UAE emirate of Ras Al Khaimah’s sovereign wealth fund plans an initial public offering for its port of Poti project in Georgia for 2011, its chief executive officer said on Tuesday.
“We will go for an IPO definitely in 2011,” said Khater Massaad, the CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA), without giving a specific date.
RAKIA bought the Black Sea port of Poti and 300 hectacres of land in 2008 to develop a free industrial zone there to generate income for the fourth-largest member of the United Arab Emirates, Massaad said.
The CEO, who for over 20 years has worked for Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr al-Qasimi, the Gulf emirate’s crown prince, said there were no plans to increase foreign investments or issue further debt to expand RAKIA’s $2 billion portfolio.
“We have clear instructions not to invest any more overseas and to invest only locally,” he said. Aside from the Poti port, Massaad said RAKIA also has an aluminium project in India.
Profits from RAKIA’s investment portfolio increased by 25 percent in the first half of 2010, he said. Last year, it made a profit of $65 million.
Speaking at a news conference in his palace on Tuesday, Sheikh Saud said that Ras Al Khaimah is targeting investment in tourism and industry.
He said 400,000 tourists visited the coastal desert emirate in 2009. Dubai had around 7 million visitors. Ras Al Khaimah aims to attract 1.5 million visitors by 2015 and is investing in infrastructure to accomodate more tourism.
Lacking the oil and gas wealth of Abu Dhabi or the real estate market in Dubai, the emirate has focused investment in industries like cement, pharmaceuticals and glass. It also seeks to fashion itself as a regional automobile and parts making hub.
“We have companies from Japan and now we are talking to European countries and we hope by the end of the year to have some good news,” Masaad said.
Both Massaad and Sheikh Saud highlighted Ras Al Khaimah’s advantage as a hub for easy acces to shipping and cheap labour from Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and the Middle East.
Despite the sovereign wealth fund’s commitment to focus investments internally for the next three years, the crown prince would not rule out the possibility of more investments abroad. “You’ll have to wait and see,” Sheikh Saud said. (Editing by Michael Shields)
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