Emerging opportunities take spotlight at Milken conference

Shifting opportunities in emerging markets and alternative assets were key themes at the 18th annual Milken Institute Global Conference held April 27-29 in Beverly Hills, Calif.


Several panels also were devoted to increasing diversity among money managers and boards.

Africa replaced the BRIC countries as the hottest trend in emerging markets investing at this year’s conference. “The old way of developing emerging markets was the BRICs … Now they’ve got their issues. Now you’ve got to know about 100 countries,” said Jay Ireland, president and CEO of GE Africa, which focuses its operations on that continent in 10 to 12 countries.

“Africa is the one large area in the world that has a demographic dividend” with population growth, said Penelope Foley, group managing director, emerging markets, for TCW Group Inc., Los Angeles. Things are “very, very different” from the past because “governments have much better balance sheets,” she said.

Scott Minerd, chairman of investments and global chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners LLC, New York, compared Africa to “Asia in the early days.” As the continent evolves, there will be some unpredictable events, just as there were in China in the late 1980s, Mr. Minerd said. But he added, “I will not make the same mistake (of not investing) again.”

By contrast, the eurozone is a bit wobbly, said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz SE, Munich.