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[October 06, 2013]
Mubadala agrees range of deals with Serbia [National, The (United Arab Emirates)]
(National, The (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Atic, Masdar and Strata are involved in pacts that cover energy, IT, telecoms and aerospace Mubadala Development signed numerous agreements with the Serbian government yesterday to seek out areas for investing across semiconductors, renewable energy, telecoms and aerospace manufacturing.
The deals are the latest sign of a rapid warming in relations between Abu Dhabi and Belgrade that has already yielded millions of dollars of investment for Serbia's struggling economy.
"Mubadala is delighted to increase collaboration with Serbian entities, and we are confident these agreements will enable us to identify investment opportunities," said Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi, Mubadala's chief operating officer.
"We remain focused on supporting the development of a diversified, globally integrated and innovation-driven economy for Abu Dhabi, and expanding into promising growth markets, such as Serbia." Under four memorandum of understanding signed in Belgrade yesterday, Advanced Technology Investment Company (Atic), a Mubadala subsidiary, will explore the feasibility of a research and development facility in Serbia for the semiconductor industry.
Another agreement will involve Masdar and Serbia's ministry of energy, development and environmental protection in jointly identifying renewable energy investment opportunities. The renewable energy firm Masdar is wholly owned by Mubadala.
Mubadala and Telekom Srbija, Serbia's telecom operator, will seek opportunities for developing data centres in the country.
Finally, Strata, Mubadala's aerospace manufacturing arm, will identify joint openings for aerostructures-related manufacturing in Serbia.
The Abu Dhabi government-controlled strategic investment company manages a multibillion-dollar portfolio across international markets and already has significant stakes in other emerging economies such as Brazil and Russia.
Executives have made several visits to the country in the past few months amid a ratcheting up of deals between the two nations.
In August, Etihad Airways announced it was taking a 49 per cent stake in the national carrier, Jat Airways, a move involving a US$100 million relaunch of the airline as Air Serbia.
That followed Al Dahra Agriculture, the Abu Dhabi-based agribusiness, in January saying it was making a €300m (Dh1.49 billion) investment in eight Serbian farming companies.
After two recessions in three years, Serbia has been seeking to forge new investment partners such as the UAE, Russia and China as the euro zone, its traditional trading partner, focuses on solving its debt crisis.
The cash-strapped government is struggling to find ways to stimulate the economy and cut unemployment, with as many as half of all young people out of work.
During an interview with The National in August, Aleksandar Vucic, the first deputy prime minister of Serbia, said he believed Mubadala would be able to take advantage of Serbia's skilled workforce, which includes engineers and other technically skilled people.
Mr Vucic oversaw the signing of the agreements yesterday in Belgrade, along with Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, the chief executive and managing director of Mubadala.
Links between the two countries have rebounded from a low in 2008 when the UAE formally recognised Serbia's neighbour Kosovo as an independent state.
Mr Vucic has credited Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, as integral in helping to restore relations.
The two countries are in the process of opening embassies in their respective capitals. Serbia had been due to open its embassy in Abu Dhabi last month.
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