Abu Dhabi Sovereign Fund Agrees To Restrictions Just As It Exits US Market

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The US government and authorities in the EU have been up in arms about sovereign funds buying into iconic financial institutions and tech companies. The regulators fear that foreign-backed capital will use its money as leverage to push agendas in the US financial markets or steal valuable trade secrets from the R&D basket of Western ingenuity.

Now, the largest of the sovereign funds, based on Abu Dhabi "has pledged it won’t use its money to further its political aims," according to The Wall Street Journal. The fund even sent out letters to the appropriate people in the US and EU to show its good faith.

The missive means little now. The financial crisis swirling through the US and Europe has frightened sovereign funds so badly that they were nowhere to be found when Bear Stearns (BSC) needed capital or JP Morgan (JPM) could have used a few dollars to close its deal to support the faltering investment bank.

Who can blame them? Money the sovereigns recently put into Citicorp (C) and Merrill Lynch (MER) has lost a great deal of its value. Ditto cash that the Chinese put into Blackstone (BX). Big funds from overseas are not going to move into a market that is viewed as sitting on the brink of a possible melt-down.

It is always nice to get a letter from a friend, but the pledge from Abu Dhabi does not mean much. The fund is better off buying oil or wheat futures.

Douglas A. McIntyre