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SWFs contribute €2.5bn to Morocco fund

Wessal Capital’s first investment is a €530 million project to transform Casablanca’s port. The private equity-style vehicle’ is backed by state investment funds of Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, State of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

A group of sovereign wealth funds have backed a Morocco real estate and tourism fund to the tune of €2.5 billion for investment including the redevelopment the landmark Casablanca harbour.

Rabat-based Wessal Capital announced itself today as a Moroccan “private equity style investment fund” comprising the Kingdom of Morocco through the Moroccan Fund for Tourism Development (FMDT), the United Arab Emirates through Aabar Investments based in Abu Dhabi, the State of Kuwait through Al Ajial Investment Fund of the Kuwait Investment Authority , the State of Qatar through Qatar Holding, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through its Public Investment Fund (PIF)

The fund follows an agreement by the four Gulf states to provide $5 billion to Morocco between 2012 and 2017 in order to improve its infrastructure, boost its economy and strength its tourism.

The first investment of the new fund is €530 million in the Wessal Casa-Port – the name given to a large-scale development of Casablanca’s port area. Once completed, the project will be 12 hectares in size and include a new “urban center”. There will be a marina, housing, offices, leisure and retail space, hotels, a science park and a cruise ship terminal
In a statement, Wessal said Morocco offered “unrivalled opportunities” for investors. It said: “The country is seen as politically stable and under the direction of the King is pursuing a radical modernisation and reform programme. Morocco also has a strong track record of delivering successfully major infrastructure projects.”

It added: “Wessal Capital’s structure allows large, sophisticated investors, such as Sovereign Wealth Funds, to invest in a private equity style vehicle that has a clear investment strategy, high levels of governance and transparency.”
While Moroccan funds have never been prevalent, in 2006 some funds were set up by major firms, including Deutsche Bank/ RREEF Real Estate when it launched an Iberia and Morocco value added real estate strategy. Experts said they had generally not been successful and suffered in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.