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Rakia and RAK Ceramics CEO, Dr Khater Massaad, on why he's selling global assets

Summary: Exclusive: Rakia and RAK Ceramics CEO, Dr Khater Massaad, tells KaREn REmO-LiSTana why he's selling global assets for an AA credit rating

Naturally, Dr Khater Massaad knows the mission of Ras Al Kaimah Investment Authority (Rakia) off by heart: to encourage international investments to the emirate, and not the other way around. And having attracted close to $2.5 billion in investment, no one can say that the Rakia chief hasn't achieved his aim. Today, there are more than 6,500 companies registered with Rakia, representing investors from diverse non-oil sectors, including industrial, commercial, trading, services, consulting and media companies.

But, for Massaad, a deeply ambitious man, it's just not enough. The emirate is hungry for more investments and is willing to divest all its international assets to get 'AA' credit ratings, up from the current 'A'. This nifty set of moves will put RAK on the same footing as its much wealthier sisteremirate, Abu Dhabi. "For the last two years, Ras Al Kaimah has got an A-rating and His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi wants to bring this 'A' to 'AA' rating," says Massaad. Describing the deputy ruler as a "very conservative" and "very good" businessman, Massaad said Sheikh Saud's focus now is to "make sure that Ras Al Kaimah is on the right track, no defaulting and financial problems."

At the top of the list for divestment is its investment in the Port of Poti in Georgia, which Rakia plans to IPO next year. "We are planning to exit this port with an IPO... in 2011," he said. "It is not a strategic asset for us. If we can make money from selling something then why should we not do it?"

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