As Chairman of FiBAN I got the honour to participate in the business delegation in the visit to United Arab Emirates by the President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö.
Photo: Office of the President of the Republic
VISIT WITH PRESIDENT NIINISTÖAs Chairman of FiBAN I got the honour to participate in the business delegation in the visit to United Arab Emirates by the President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö. As these visits usually go, an important goal was to promote offerings of Finnish companies, but this time another goal was to present Finland to Emirates' investors and investigate their interest in investing in Finnish growth companies, infrastructure projects and investment opportunities. Industrial investors were represented by CEO of Ahlström Capital, Mr Panu Ruotila, with myself representing private investor sector, mainly angels and VCs.
"Arab Emirates has become a major investor, and has now reached a point where gains from investments have surpassed oil revenues"
United Arab Emirates is in many ways a very interesting and unique country.This wealth is clearly visible especially in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two largest cities in the seven-state federation. UAE has become a major investor, and has now reached a point where gains from investments have surpassed oil revenues. The main investors are state owned investment funds and multi-industry corporations. There is also private investment activity, but for example business angel networks have not taken off despite good efforts.
"Business angel networks have not taken off despite good efforts."
Two things follow from the major investors' state-owned background: First, the investment funds are very large, in dozens of billion dollars. They invest in tickets of $50-100M at the minimum. Second, they tend to be focused on sectors that are strategically important to the state, such as renewable energy, health care, defence technology, and cyber security. Also, acquiring knowhow and innovations is highly interesting, because Emirates wants to become a major industrial supplier, both regionally and in the international markets. Projects with focus on Emirates itself are particularly interesting.
"Our investment offering needs to be built to accommodate their needs: Large enough scale, with interesting sectors."
With this background, Emirates' main investors are not interested in participating in a start-up's angel round with a 50k ticket, or even in a few million-euro LP investments in Finnish investment funds. They simply don't have the bandwidth to manage such small investments. Our investment offering needs to be built to accommodate their needs: Large enough scale, with interesting sectors.
The next step in our plan is to put together an offering based on a cluster of innovative Finnish companies in one or two sectors, which have technology that is particularly interesting to the Emirates. The plan is to introduce these companies also as potential investments, and even as kind of foot in the door to possible acquisitions. Also, we are drafting a plan for a structure, which would enable Emirates' investors to invest $100M, divided further into potential cases in Finland.
And finally, an invitation to Slush 2015 has already been presented.
FiBAN chairman 2015
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