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Guggenheim confirms interest in Arctic fund

Investors in regional fund likely to include China, Alaska's Dispatch's Rogoff says

Posted: November 15, 2011 - 1:04am

Guggenheim Partners has confirmed it is looking at an Arctic investment fund, but said it is too soon to provide specifics about any such fund.

Saturday, Alaska Dispatch publisher Alice Rogoff said in Juneau that Guggenheim was developing a fund aimed at making multi-billion dollar investments in the Arctic region.

Rogoff was speaking at the Juneau World Affairs Council’s forum on climate change issues, which also looked at the increasing business opportunities in a more ice-free Arctic.

Guggenheim managed more than $125 billion for investors around the world.

Following Rogoff’s public statements, Guggenheim issued its own statement.

“We are in the very early planning stages for an Arctic investment fund,” said Guggenheim spokesman Jeffrey Kelley.

Rogoff’s comments at the forum at the University of Alaska Southeast’s Juneau campus drew attention in part because she is married to David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of The Carlyle Group, also an influential investment firm.

Rogoff herself has been active in Alaska development issues, particularly in western and northern Alaska, which have lagged the rest of the state. Rogoff said Saturday she hoped some of such a fund’s investments would be in Alaska, and would bring needed investment and infrastructure.

Kelley said it was too soon for Guggenheim to make public any details about the Arctic fund.

“At this point in time it would be premature to comment further about potential structure or investment parameters,” he said.

Guggenheim Partners Monday posted on its website an Alaska Dispatch article based on the Empire’s coverage of its Arctic fund at the Juneau World Affairs Council’s event.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority said Monday it would welcome interest by such a fund in Alaska.

“We would not look at this as competition, we would look forward to opportunities to partner on infrastructure and resource development projects,” said AIDEA spokesman Karsten Rodvik.

Fearing that such development has lagged in parts of Alaska, the Legislature during the last session approved broader authority for AIDEA to move forward with its own projects and not simply finance projects of others.

Rogoff in Juneau revealed some of the structure about the Guggenheim fund the company itself was reluctant to discuss.

Guggenheim Partners, she said, had not only already made a commitment to the fund, but also to work with indigenous peoples of the Arctic in its management.

She also revealed who would be likely to invest in such a fund.

“The single biggest source of investment dollars in Guggenheim’s or probably anybody’s fund will be China,” Rogoff said.

She acknowledged that might be a controversial proposition.

“We all have lots of emotional reactions,” she said, about hearing of possible Chinese investment.

That might not be bad, especially given Vladimir Putin’s Russia is aggressively trying to attract outside investment to its own Arctic, she said.

“The fact of the matter is, as long as they are passive investors in a fund that’s run by its managing partners that don’t include them, we have absolutely no legal framework to resist it,” she said.

And, it might be the best way to get the development that parts of Alaska’s Arctic needs, she said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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