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Libya ranks among world's largest sovereign wealth funds

world Updated: Mar 03, 2011 13:33 IST

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Libya ranks among the world's largest sovereign wealth funds as it always had large amounts of cash to throw around because of its huge reserves of high-quality crude oil, a media report said.

Libya had created a $60 billion sovereign wealth fund after the UN lifted its economic sanctions on the country in 2003. Today, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) ranks among the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, the CNN reported Wednesday.

The country also uses the Libyan Central Bank and the Libyan Foreign Bank as channels to invest, focusing mainly on domestic and African investments, it said.

Libya had “about $32 billion in liquidity" stored in US banks in January 2010, CNNMoney said citing documents made public by the WikiLeaks. That's roughly equivalent to the amount the US Treasury Department had frozen earlier this week.

Libya even invested over $300 million into the now defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers, according to US bankruptcy court filings. The country is fighting in the courts to recover those losses.

In Canada, Libya made one of its first private-equity deals by purchasing Verenex Energy for about $320 million in 2009.

Libya put the bulk of its cash to work in Europe and the United Kingdom, partly because of its geographic proximity, CNN said quoting Wikileaks.

The LIA also has stakes in Italian companies like oil giant Eni, defence contractor Finmeccanica and UniCredit, Italy's largest bank. The LIA also has a 7.5 per cent stake in Juventus.

It also owns a 3.3 percent stake in Pearson, the owner of the Financial Times and Penguin Publishing in Britain. The fund also has stakes in several commercial real estate properties in Britain, the CNN reported.