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Fund director’s body found in Morocco

Associated Press / March 31, 2010

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Moroccan authorities recovered the body of the director of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund yesterday, five days after a glider he was riding in plunged into a lake in the North African kingdom.

Sheik Ahmed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whose glider crashed into a lake south of the Moroccan capital, Rabat, on Friday, was managing director of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. He was also a younger brother of the president of the United Arab Emirates.

The 38-year-old Sheik Ahmed was ranked 27th on Forbes’s list of the world’s most powerful people in 2009. Analysts believe the Abu Dhabi fund he led is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, with estimates of its size ranging from less than $400 billion to $875 billion.

The search for his body involved more than 100 divers from Morocco, the Emirates, France, Spain, and the United States. Two royal Moroccan helicopters, night vision equipment, and a medical helicopter were also used, according to Morocco’s state news agency.

The Abu Dhabi fund’s investments include a $7.5 billion cash injection into Citigroup Inc. in 2007. Stocks and other equities in the developed world make up the largest class of the fund’s assets, ranging from 35 percent to 45 percent of its holdings.

A person close to the Abu Dhabi government told the Associated Press yesterday that an announcement on the fund’s plans is expected in the coming days.

“A succession plan has been formulated and is in motion,’’ said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly.

The fund’s oversight and investment strategy rests with Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the Emirates’ seven-member federation.