Mubadala bullish on Brazil and looks at new investment deals

Abu Dhabi's strategic investment company seeks new opportunities as Brazilian government led by President Jair Bolsonaro brings in reforms

Martha Seillier. Special Secretary of the Secretariat for Investments Partnerships Program;  at UAE/Brazil Business Forum.

(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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Brazil will be one of the important destinations for investments for Mubadala Investment Company in the next five to 10 years as the Latin American country undertakes reforms to boost its economy, a top executive said.

Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi strategic investment company, has invested more than $2 billion (Dh7.34bn) in Brazil in energy, infrastructure and other sectors over the past few years.

“We are committed [to Brazil]and we see it as a growing economy moving forward. It will be one of the important destinations for Mubadala in the next 5 to 10 years,” said Waleed Al Muhairi, deputy group chief executive of Mubadala, at the the UAE-Brazil Business Forum in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Mubadala had, however, “lost larger deals because of hesitancy or lack of speed or sometimes lack of understanding on the Brazilian side,” he added.

“But these can be improved, we are here as friends and hopefully we will work with our friends in Brazil so that we can make the investment climate even more attractive going forward,” said Mr Al Muhairi, who is also chief executive of alternative investments and infrastructure at Mubadala.

The company is planning to increase its investment as the new Brazilian government led by President Jair Bolsonaro brings in reforms to boost the economy.

Mr Bolsonaro delivered a keynote speech at forum, in which he encouraged investment from the Emirates into BrazilSince he took office in January, Mr Bolsonaro has pushed through reforms designed to improve his country's economy by making it more hospitable to the private sector and foreign investors.

Mr Al Muhairi said: “We are seeing a transition of Brazil into an incredibly investor-friendly environment, that is something very exciting for us.”

The company “would like to have a broad-based exposure to Brazil’s economy”, he added. “We are also opportunistic when we see a big deal, when we something interesting, we will study and take it forward.”

Infrastructure, energy and real estate are some of the sectors which Mubadala would be interested in investing in Brazil.

Mubadala has an office in Brazil with 25 employees. The investment company, which merged with International Petroleum Investment Company in 2017, is diversifying its sources of revenue and has investments across the globe. Last year, the company invested Dh70bn to boost its presence in various sectors around the world.

Mr Al Muhairi also said ongoing discussions about pension reforms in Brazil as well as future talks about tax reform will be important as it seeks to increase investments in the Latin American country.

Brazil's senate recently approved pension reforms that could boost the nation's public finances, with savings to the tune of $195.5bn expected to be made over the next 10 years, Martha Seillier, special secretary of the Secretariat of the Investment Partnerships Programme in Brazil told The National on the sidelines of the forum.

"The whole country is committed to put Brazil back on track. Social security reform was important," said Ms Seillier. She expects the economy to grow 2 per cent next year.

Highlighting investment opportunities available for global companies, Ms Seillier said the country has its doors completely open for prospective investors with opportunities of about $400bn in infrastructure, oil and gas and airport development.

Brazil is planning to privatise the Port of Santos, which is the largest port in Latin America. It is also conducting an oil and gas auction on November 6 for private investments. More than 20 airports are also being structured for concessions in 2020, she added.