New arrival gives boost to Bahrain

New arrival gives boost to Bahrain

Published: July 23, 2012

Asset manager PineBridge announces Manama office while Fitch reaffirms sovereign’s rating.

Despite political volatility since early 2011, Bahrain continues to attract financial services firms to its shores.

The latest such arrival is PineBridge Investments, an asset manager that has just announced it will open a new headquarter for its Middle East and North Africa (MENA) business in the capital of Manama.

With more than US$67bn of assets under management for institutional and individual clients and offices in over 20 countries – including Dubai and Istanbul – PineBridge had its pick of new locations for the MENA HQ. Talal Al Zain, the firm’s CEO, said: “With its strong and recognised regulatory environment, we believe that the Kingdom of Bahrain is a good location to headquarter [the business].”

The financial services sector is the largest contributor to Bahrain’s GDP, accounting for 27%, and contributed nearly 23% of the total increase in GDP over the last six years. Last year the number of financial firms operating in the kingdom rose to 415 from 403.

PineBridge’s announcement comes as Fitch Ratings affirms Bahrain’s long-term foreign currency rating at BBB and its local currency rating at BBB+, each with a stable outlook. The government has made two high-profile issuances in recent months – a US$1.5bn bond in June followed a US$750mn sukuk last November.

“Economic performance has been robust in the face of the political unrest, benefitting from high oil prices and production levels and an increase in government spending,” the agency noted, adding that indicators point to a recovering economy in 2012. Fitch projects GDP growth of 3.5% for 2012, following 2.2% growth in 2011.