Qatar’s $335bn sovereign wealth fund sees opportunities to invest in Britain after Brexit and is looking at infrastructure, healthcare and technology, the fund’s head told a London conference yesterday.
The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has in recent years diversified its portfolio away from Europe towards more investments in the US and Asia but is still one of the most high-profile Gulf investors in Britain.
The June 23 Brexit vote has raised a number of questions about the future of the world’s fifth largest economy and London’s position as one of the top two global financial centres. “I am still looking, even after Brexit there will be opportunities QIA can really hunt for,” QIA chief executive HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani told an investment conference in London.
“Whenever the government would like the QIA to step in we are ready,” Sheikh Abdullah said just two days before Prime Minister Theresa May triggers formal Brexit talks.
Asked what sectors in Britain he was particularly looking at, he said, “Our aim now in the future is really to focus on infrastructure, and we will be focusing also on healthcare and IT.”
The chief executive of Qatar Petroleum said the firm felt comfortable with its investments in Britain and did not see last June’s vote to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc as a game changer.
“What happens with the economy of the UK long term with Brexit and so on really will not be a game-changer for us,” Saad Sherida al-Kaabi told a conference in London.
Sovereign and private investors from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE have been prolific buyers of British assets in the past decade, snapping up billions of dollars worth of property, mostly in London.
Qatar is one of the most high-profile investors in the British capital, owning landmarks such as the Shard skyscraper, Harrods department store, luxury hotels and a stake in the Canary Wharf financial district.
Qatar has also sought to diversify its UK investments beyond real estate, including buying stakes in retailer J Sainsbury and London Heathrow airport.
‘London stays top centre despite Brexit’
London has retained the mantle as the world’s top financial centre, though uncertainty about the implications of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union saw its lead over Asian rivals narrow, according to a study, Bloomberg reported.
New York held on to second place in the Z/Yen Group Ltd’s latest Global Financial Centres Index, though its overall rating was hit by concern following the US election of Donald Trump. London and New York fell 13 and 14 points respectively, the largest declines in the top 50 financial centres other than Calgary. Singapore and Hong Kong, the two leading Asian centres, narrowed the gap between themselves and the top two to about 25 points on a scale of 1,000, the index showed.
“We live in uncertain times and financial professionals hate uncertainty,” Mark Yeandle, associate director of Z/Yen and author of the GFCI, said in the study yesterday. “Brexit has caused uncertainty in Europe and the election of Donald Trump has caused uncertainty globally.”
Britain’s role as the world’s pre-eminent banking hub is at risk if the UK’s separation from the EU costs banks their ability to easily serve clients across the region. US banks currently sell their goods and services throughout the bloc from bases in London, but the so-called passporting rights enabling that are unlikely to be extended after Brexit.
Frankfurt and Dublin – emerging as the top two destinations for bankers looking to establish new trading hubs inside the EU – ranked 23rd and 33rd respectively, both down on previous years.
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