Sun Life Financial Inc. is tapping a massive Middle Eastern endowment fund for talenT to fill the position of chief investment officer at a new institutional asset management business.
Sun Life Investment Management Inc. launched April 1st
. The new organization will provide pooled funds to pension plans and other institutional investors in Canada. The company begins life with a royally-connected employee—the company's new CIO, Carl Bang, comes from the Qatar Endowment Fund, the investment fund of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.
The Qatar Foundation was set up by the royal family in the mid-1990s to develop the country's human potential. The Qatar Endowment Fund, something like the Yale and Harvard endowments, or KAUST in Saudi Arabia, was created to fund the Qatar Foundation, in perpetuity. Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, serves as chairperson of the fund.
Middle East countries are increasingly players in global high finance. The country has the world’s third-largest gas reserves. Qatar draws its national wealth from the world’s largest natural gas field, South Pars, which it develops in conjunction with Iran. The country is the leading exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). As the price of energy has risen over a decade Qatar has emerged as the richest country in the world as measured by GDP per capita. More than a tenth of the native population—some 29,000 Qataris—are said to be millionaires.
Flush with cash the country is becoming a player on the global stage.Al Jazeera, Qatar’s government-backed satellite television news
network, helped sparked the Arab Spring. Qatar has hosted a series of meetings between Western officials and the Taliban (some think the Taliban might open an office in Doha). The country was the first to shut its embassy in Damascus at the start of the war in Syria and is said to be funnelling arms to the rebels. The country will also host the World Cup.
But the country is also becoming known among the finance crowd. Earlier this month the Qatar Endowment Fund bought a five percent stake in telecoms firm Bharti Airtel Ltd for $1.26 billion. Bharti Airtel is the world's fourth largest phone company in terms of number of users. The fund already has a large investment in Vodafone Qatar.
At Sun Life Bang will be responsible for investment strategy and operations at the new asset management business.