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Charlemagne duo emerge as MENA equities market leaders

Charlemagne duo emerge as MENA equities market leaders

The International Monetary Fund predicted the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) would be the third fastest-growing region in the world over the next five years.

As the region slowly rebounded from the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, and the volatility of 2010's Arab Spring, many countries were once again hit with uncertainty in 2015 due to geopolitical risks, weak global growth and a decline in the oil price.

The World Bank earlier this year described the region as having a cautiously pessimistic outlook. However, its latest MENA Economic Monitor predicts regional GDP growth will average around 3% for 2016.

While prospects for growth are slim - mainly due to risks linked to civilian unrest, terror and the oil market - there is a suggestion a cooling tensions in Syria, Libya and Yemen could aid stability.

Understandably, investors have been tentative to add to MENA holdings, but some are starting to regain faith in the region, and prosper.

In terms of fund managers, there are currently 26 operating in the Equity MENA sector with a three-year track record to the end of April 2016. The average of these managers returned 8.74%, while the S&P Pan Arab Composite TR, the most-commonly held benchmark, rose 5% in US dollar terms.

Despite this lower rate of return, there are two fund managers who went above and beyond this performance, returning over eight times the average manager.

Akhilesh Baveja & Sharat Dua, Charlemagne

Fund: Charlemagne MENA R EUR

Three year total return (April 2013-April 2016): 64.44%

London-based duo Akhilesh Baveja and Sharat Dua are clear front runners in the sector over the analysis period for the performance on their Charlemagne MENA fund.

This outperformance sees the pair stride ahead of Citywire AAA-rated manager Ali Al Nasser, who runs the Duet MENA Horizon fund, and A-rated managers Reda Gomaa of Mashreq Capital and Stephen Dover of Franklin Templeton.

Citywire AAA-rated Baveja and Dua have run the Charlemagne MENA fund since February 2011, while Dua also runs the Charlemagne Magna Africa fund which started in March 2007.

The Dublin-domiciled Charlemagne MENA fund focuses on financials but also has strong allocations in the health care and consumer staples sectors. The fund has 35% allocated to financials, 26% to consumer staples and 24% to healthcare.

In country terms, the bulk of the fund is focused on core MENA countries, namely Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt. The top ten holdings of the €20.5 million fund include mail delivery service Aramex, healthcare company Bupa Arabia and Egypt-based healthy snacks provider Edita.

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