Libya in talks with IFC exec to head fund: sources
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Libya in talks with IFC exec to head fund: sources

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(Reuters) - Libya's government is in talks with International Finance Corporation executive Ahmed Ali Attiga to appoint him as head of its sovereign wealth fund, sources told Reuters.

 

The Libyan Investment Authority, which owns stakes in Italian bank UniCredit and British publisher Pearson, has been headless since last year after the exit of Mohammed Layas, who was linked to the regime of ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

 

A banking source said the Libyans had been in talks with Attiga trying to hammer out details of his new job.

 

"They have recently been discussing with Attiga what his mandate would be," the source said.

 

Attiga, currently the IFC's representative in Jordan, did not reply to an email requesting comment.

 

The IFC is part of the World Bank group and is a global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries.

 

"Attiga brings to the position a very strong background in governance and investment discipline and uniquely enjoys the combined support of the NTC, the interim government, and Libya's financial community," a second source familiar with the matter said.

 

"I expect the LIA to be in a strong position under his leadership and hope that he be given the local and international support to implement the challenging but necessary changes to Libya's sovereign wealth fund," he said.

Attiga comes from a prominent Libyan family. His father Ali Attiga was a senior official under King Idris, who ruled Libya before Gaddafi. He was forced to leave the country and later became secretary general of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries.

 

TO SHRINK?

 

The Libyan sovereign fund had assets of about $65 billion last year, but its acting chief executive Rafik Nayed told Reuters then that he expected that to shrink.

 

At the middle of last year, it had $10.8 billion invested in equities and $9.7 billion in bonds. The fund was created in 2006 to manage the country's oil dollars, and its assets were frozen at the height of the Allied movement to oust Gaddafi.

 

The country's central bank Governor, Saddeq Omar Elkaber, said last month Libya's investment vehicles would turn their attention to Libya after being focused mainly abroad.

 

Elkaber said the lifting of U.N. sanctions on the central bank's assets had unfrozen 95 percent of its assets, estimated at nearly $100 billion.

 

The sanctions had originally frozen $170 billion in assets, he said, adding that $70 billion were the investments of the LIA and other investment vehicles, including government-owned banks such as Libyan Foreign Bank.