2016 was marked by a number of geopolitical developments that continued to contribute to a sustained period of market volatility. In particular, Brexit and the US elections defied expectations and forced investors to reassess their view of the world.
As we look ahead, the need to diversify investment portfolios is as great as ever. Our alternative investment offering enables regional investors to move beyond conventional products focused on equity and fixed income markets and achieve solid investment returns which are uncorrelated to the broad equity and bond market returns.
Our real estate platform has also grown considerably. We have built a strong team of experienced professionals who are able to identify the right opportunities for regional investors. We made a number of substantial acquisitions in the UK and the UAE and are planning to continue to grow our offering in 2017.
We expect our trade finance and leasing strategies to deliver attractive returns on the back of a strong recovery in the US economy and increased demand for alternative sources of financing. Governments in the region are expected to continue tapping international and local bond and sukuk markets as they seek to finance their ambitious reform programmes and deal with deficits. These developments will provide opportunities for fixed-income investors who have appetite for increased market volatility. Equities are poised for a challenging year in general, and particularly in the GCC region; however, we have identified a number of attractively priced securities of regional companies which are well positioned to capitalise on the positive trends in healthcare, education, logistics and tourism.
Our strong commitment to investors based in the region remains unchanged. Since our founding in 1999, Rasmala has focused on supporting regional investors to invest in the region and around the world and we look forward to doing the same again in 2017.
Group Chief Executive