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March 16, 2010

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ADIA sets to be more transparent with move

THE Abu Dhabi Investment Authority broke with its customary privacy by issuing its first annual statement yesterday, marking one of the biggest steps yet by the world's largest sovereign wealth fund to increase transparency.

The document, called an "annual review," provides a rare window into the publicity-shy fund's operations and investment strategy. A revamped Website launched yesterday aims to further humanize ADIA by including video soundbites from key players and photos offering a glimpse inside the fund's iconic glass tower, the tallest in the Emirati capital.

The increased openness could help address Western policy makers' concerns about the Abu Dhabi fund's motives at a time when neighboring emirate Dubai is under fire for a perceived lack of financial transparency amid the handling of its debt crisis.

ADIA has repeatedly said its investments, including a US$7.5 billion cash injection into Citigroup Inc in 2007, are driven by financial, not political, considerations.

"We have worked hard to develop strong relationships, built on mutual trust and respect, with governments, regulators and investment partners around the world," Managing Director Ahmed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said in the 28-page report's introductory letter. "We also understand that trust must both be earned over time and maintained through ongoing actions."

The report shows that the bulk of the fund's holdings are targeted toward conventional investments such as stocks and bonds, primarily in North America and Europe.

It does not, however, contain highly sought-after information, such as balance sheet details or the overall size of the fund's holdings.

Analysts believe ADIA is the world's largest sovereign wealth fund.


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