Markaz plans $100 million U.S. mortgage fund


KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwaiti asset management firm Markaz is planning a fund of up to $100 million to invest in distressed debt in the U.S. mortgage industry, its general manager told the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit on Wednesday. "We see real value on distressed debt-based on mortgage financing," Manaf Alhajeri said. "We are looking very actively at opportunities." Prices on some debt had fallen to between 40 percent and 60 percent of par value, he said.

The fund would be between $50 million and $100 million. Markaz, which has previously managed funds investing in warehousing or commercial property in the United States, would make its first investment for the new fund by the end of March, 2009, Alhajeri said. "We see more value on the debt rather than on the property," he said. Markaz, which has about 25 percent of the mutual fund market in Kuwait, has about $5 billion under management, Alhajeri said.

(Writing by Will Rasmussen; editing by Alexander Smith and Hans Peters) © Thomson Reuters 2008.

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