City & Corporate: Abu Dhabi in hunt for overseas help

Middle East Former Abu Dhabi Investment Company holds pitches with London shops for retained brief.

Invest AD, the newly rebranded Abu Dhabi Investment Company, is close to appointing its first retained PR support.

The Abu Dhabi government-owned investment company - a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Investment Council - is seeking international corporate and b2b PR support in the financial services sector and is understood to be targeting financial PR agencies in London.

Pitches are understood to have recently taken place in London, with Invest AD looking for financial specialists to raise awareness of the company internationally.

'We are looking to build our business internationally and for international investors,' said Stephen Bowey, Invest AD's head of communications. 'We are looking for agency PR support to assist us.'

Bowey was formerly business development director at College Hill before joining the then Abu Dhabi Investment Company in late 2008.

The pitch process is believed to have involved discussions with as many as 18 agencies before being narrowed to a shortlist of three that pitched. Sources with knowledge of the process linked Kreab Gavin Anderson, Brunswick, Capital MS&L and FD with the account.

Given Bowey's strong comms experience - he has also served as head of comms at Old Mutual, South Africa - it is thought Invest AD is more interested in an agency's ability to run international comms out of the UK than its local network, although those agencies linked with the mandate have offices in the Middle East.

This marks the first time the company has taken on a retained PR agency.

Invest AD rebranded in June this year with a mission statement to 'offer exceptional Middle East and North African investment opportunities to global institutional investors'.

The firm is looking to promote its investment management and its investment banking. The successful agency will help market the company in key financial jurisdictions and in the specialist business media.

The company was created in 1977, originally to invest on behalf of the Abu Dhabi authorities, but is now focusing on attracting foreign institutions to invest alongside the government.

At its launch, Invest AD chief executive, Nazem Fawwaz Al Kudsi, noted that most international portfolios remained underweight in the region. He said: 'We want to play our part in rectifying that. We also want to encourage local investors to focus on opportunities in their backyard.'


Abu Dhabi Burson Marsteller holds the PR account for the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority

Bahrain Bell Pottinger retains the Economic Development Board of Bahrain's global FDI (foreign direct investment) media relations account

Dubai Brunswick this year won a brief with Dubai's Department of Finance from Finsbury. Finsbury continues to handle media relations for Brand Dubai. Tetra Strategy also works for the emirate

Qatar Bell Pottinger runs an international comms programme for the Qatar Financial Centre.

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