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Maharlika CEO: terrorists are the only investors we won’t deal with

In an interview with Nikkei Asia [link], Rafael Consing, CEO of the Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC), addressed the delay in the MIC’s deployment of capital, and provided some insight into the level of interest the fund has received from global investors. To the delay, Mr. Consing said, “We’ve got a fiduciary responsibility to run this capital allotted by the government to MIC with utmost transparency and professionalism, and responsibly and accountability. So, the only way that you can do that is basically having a proper corporate governance framework.” He later added, “So that’s how we’re going to be avoiding 1MDB.” As for the interest in the fund, Mr. Consing said that “some Europeans expressed interest in co-investing with the fund, as well as a Middle Eastern-Gulf investor.” When asked about whether China would be able to invest amid the boiling tensions between the two countries, Mr. Consing replied, “The only ones that we should not be dealing with are those which have been identified as terrorists. But other than that, if China wants to invest in Maharlika, I don’t see why they shouldn’t.”

MB bottom-line: Given the reckless speed with which the fund was thrown together and rammed through Congress, I have to press “[x] doubt” for the framing that the current delay is due to the group’s overwhelming care and consideration. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I doubt it’s that. As for the interested investors, it’s a little concerning to hear Mr. Consing boil all the interest down to just “some Europeans” and a single “Middle Eastern” investor after all the alleged pitching the administration has done during its many trips abroad. Aside from the huge difference between “investing in” and “investing with” the MIC, that feels like a really weak result for all the time and attention the President and the government have allegedly put into pitching this abroad. I know the line about China is going to get a lot of attention considering the recent incidents, but the bit about being open to any investors so long as they aren’t “identified terrorists” is by far the reddest of the red flags on display here. There’s an awful lot of terrible actors on the “Pro-PH