HE Sheikh Abdullah inaugurating the 6th annual meeting of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF) at the Ritz-Carlton in Doha yesterday. Right: Al-Sayed delivering the welcome address at the meeting. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil

By Pratap John

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund plans to invest up to $20bn in “Greater Asia” over the next five years as part of portfolio diversification, said Qatar Investment Authority chief executive officer, HE Ahmed al-Sayed.

“In the region we plan to invest (initially) between $15bn and $20bn… it could be more… it could be less. It depends on the time. The timing and market situation will govern our final decision to execute investments. But we have a good appetite. That will give us good diversification of our portfolio as a global fund,” al-Sayed, also the Minister of State told reporters on the sidelines of the 6th annual meeting of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF) at the Ritz-Carlton yesterday.

The proposed investments, he said, would target healthcare, infrastructure, real estate and retail sectors.

Recently, the QIA signed a $10bn investment venture with China’s Citic Group and agreed to pay HK$4.78bn ($616mn) for a stake in Hong Kong department-store owner Lifestyle International Holdings.

Asked about the impact of oil price slump on the QIA’s investment plans, al-Sayed said, “At QIA, we have a long-term strategy, which takes into account the volatility in the market. Volatile oil prices will not force us to change our investment strategy.”

On whether there will be a short-term adjustment al-Sayed said, “No, I don’t think so. We evaluate the market from time to time.”

A Reuters’ dispatch said Gulf sovereign wealth funds such as the QIA have built up large savings over recent years thanks to high oil prices of above $100 per barrel. The QIA, one of the top investors globally, has an estimated $170bn worth of assets, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

Al-Sayed also declined to comment on whether the fund would make a new bid for Songbird Estates.

Songbird, the majority owner of London’s Canary Wharf, rejected a £2.2bn takeover proposal from the QIA and Brookfield Property Partners earlier this month, saying the 295 pence-a-share offer undervalued the group.

The QIA already owns 28.6% of Songbird, which in turn owns 69% of Canary Wharf Group, the owner of the estate, which rivals the City of London as a financial services centre.

The QIA is a sovereign wealth fund that investments domestically and internationally to curtail reliance on energy price volatility. According to its constitutive instrument, the QIA’s objectives are to develop, invest and manage the state reserve funds and other property assigned to it by the government via the Qatar Supreme Council of Economic Affairs and Investments.

Earlier, the 6th annual meeting of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF) was inaugurated by HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani. He emphasised Qatar’s policy of sustainable development with an eye on future generations. “HH the Father Emir and HH the Emir have laid a clear vision for Qatar, to make it a solid economy and provide decent living to its people. Our economy is expected to grow well in excess of 6%, driven by the non-energy segment,” Sheikh Abdullah said. Page 16




Related Story