With a career extending across Merrill Lynch, Cap Gemini, EY, and now the Chief Investment Officer for Emaar Industries and Investments; I was very pleased to catch up with Waleed Dhaduk and hear his optimism for the market in his outlook for 2017.
What is your outlook for the economy in the GCC during 2017?
I am cautiously optimistic about 2017. A large share of the GCC GDP is linked to government spending and which in turn is linked to its oil revenue. The recent increase in oil prices is expected to positively impact market sentiments. Furthermore, the nature of government spending too is evolving. The GCC countries are proactively looking to decrease government subsidies and focus more on industrial and infrastructure spending. This shift will help improve the liquidity in the market.
Where do you see the areas of growth to be?
Social infrastructure sectors like education, healthcare and F&B that have performed well in the recent past will continue to attract increased investment. However, with the recent unveiling of the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030, the industrial sector in the UAE is expected to get renewed interest from the investment world as incumbents start gearing up for capacity expansion.
What do you see to be the most dominant risks in today’s GCC market?
The primary concern for the GCC economies remains the volatility in oil prices and the underlying impacts stemming from this uncertainty. Furthermore, the ongoing regional conflicts add to the overall risk outlook. At a micro level, incumbents across various sectors are being increasingly challenged by various forms of disruptive business models. These new business models fueled by technology are posing a risk to many long standing private and public outfits that have had to completely rethink the way they do business. This trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.
When you are looking to make an investment, what are the characteristics that make it attractive to you?
In evaluating investments, the primary consideration is to assess the ability of the target to sustainably perform over and above its peer group whether it be in the form of growth or in its ability to generate consistent dividends for its shareholders. The target’s ability to consistently deliver a competitive advantage in an increasingly crowded marketplace is often the most attractive characteristic we look for. This could be based on various factors, some that are internal to the target itself and others that are more related to the external dynamics of the market they operate in. More specifically, the types of things we look for include a large and growing market, a strong and incentivized management team, a clear and focused business strategy, a resilient operating model, and a lean cost structure that helps the target grow effectively.
What’s the number one rule you have learned during your career?
On a personal level, I believe change is the only constant and as such, the ability to embrace change and remain relevant is key. On a corporate level, good people drive good performances and hence identifying, incentivizing, and retaining good talent is key to the success for any business.
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