Qatar back in action building global assets

Pipelines on the Russkoye oil field in Russia, operated by Rosneft PJSC. Qatar's US$11 billion (S$15.7 billion) Rosneft deal builds on the country's growing Russian portfolio. It has agreed to buy 24.9 per cent of the airport in St Petersburg and com
Pipelines on the Russkoye oil field in Russia, operated by Rosneft PJSC. Qatar's US$11 billion (S$15.7 billion) Rosneft deal builds on the country's growing Russian portfolio. It has agreed to buy 24.9 per cent of the airport in St Petersburg and committed US$2 billion to the Russian Direct Investment Fund.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

DOHA • Qatar is regaining its appetite for deals.

In the past two months alone, the world's richest country per capita invested in Turkey's biggest poultry producer, Russian oil giant Rosneft PJSC, and British gas company National Grid.

The investments were made through the Qatar Investment Authority, created in 2005 to handle the country's windfall from liquefied natural gas sales, of which it is the world's biggest exporter.

Since then, the country - with a population just over two million - has amassed US$335 billion (S$477.6 billion) in assets around the globe, making its sovereign wealth fund the 14th largest in the world, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

After a raft of high-profile deals that gave the fund, known as the QIA, and other Qatari investors holdings in Hollywood, New York office space, London residential property, luxury Italian fashion and even a soccer team, transactions slowed in 2015 and last year as oil prices slumped.

With oil's recovery since early last year, Qatar is back in the deal-making business.

The fund's extensive footprint in the country starts with Qatar Airways and the management of the country's airport.

It has invested in Qatar's stock market, has majority stakes in Qatar National Bank and telecom provider Ooredoo, which has operations in 12 countries.

Europe has long been a top destination for Qatari cash, with the country deploying billions in trophy investments such as German carmakers, Italian fashion designers and football clubs.

Qatar stepped in to invest billions in Barclays and the Credit Suisse Group during the 2008 financial crisis.

Qatar's US$11 billion Rosneft deal with Glencore in December builds on the country's growing Russian portfolio, while it is setting its sights on America where it opened an office in New York in 2015.

Gas imported from Qatar may be responsible for much of the lights in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

The QIA is scouring the continent for possible investments.

Fund executives said in 2014 they planned to place as much as US$20 billion in Asia over six years, and expand its offices in Beijing and New Delhi.

In June last year, the QIA agreed to buy Singapore's Asia Square Tower 1 from BlackRock Inc for US$2.5 billion, the biggest office transaction in Singapore.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2017, with the headline 'Qatar back in action building global assets'. Print Edition | Subscribe