Gulf Air Weighs On Bahrain Fund

SWF Mumtalakat, which has shares in the airline, made a net loss of $717.68 million last year.

Bahrain’s $9 billion sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat said its full-year consolidated net losses widened due to higher provisions and reduced income from associate companies.

Mumtalakat, which owns stakes in firms such as Gulf Air and Aluminium Bahrain, made a net loss of 270.6 million dinars ($717.68 million) in 2011, it said in a statement on its website.

That compares with a loss of 234.3 million dinars in 2010.

Losses from struggling national carrier Gulf Air in particular weighed on the fund’s income.

“Several restructuring initiatives were undertaken at Gulf Air to reduce operating losses, achieve cost efficiencies and improve the quality of product offering and customer service,” the statement said.

Consolidated revenue and gross profit in 2011 increased 8.4 per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively, primarily due to the strong performance of Aluminium Bahrain, it said.

The fund, which appointed Mahmood Hashem al-Kooheji as chief executive in March, booked impairment losses of 316.5 million dinars in 2011 compared with 191.2 million the previous year.

Mumtalakat said its consolidated operating loss fell almost 88 per cent to 5.9 million dinars in 2011, from 48.9 million.

Mumtalakat is one of the smaller sovereign wealth funds in the world’s top oil-exporting region.

Its chief executive said this month the fund may offload a portion of its stakes in firms and reinvest the proceeds in the country’s economy.

The head of the fund, Talal Al Zain, quit last February over differences of strategy with the board.

Sources at the time said Al Zain was particularly frustrated with the board’s focus on housekeeping at Gulf Air.

The source said: “There were clear differences between Talal and the sovereign fund management over the handling of Gulf Air in the portfolio.

“Everyone knows the airline has been bleeding money and if you are CEO of a SWF with a loss-making company as your top holding, there is very little you can do.”