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Qatar $40bn property firm eyes Far East, Europe

Doha, May 21, 2008

Qatar's $40 billion property investment arm said it had bought a French industrial firm for 1.5 billion euros and planned to develop a $2 billion project in Hong Kong.

Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co's chief executive officer Ghanim bin Saad Al-Saad said the firm would re-evaluate its assets in Europe given the strength of the euro, though it hoped investments in the far East and South America would 'balance this'.

The real estate arm of sovereign wealth fund, Qatar investment Authority, expects 25 percent annual growth in its business.

'In 2009, there are a lot of opportunities coming for Qatari Diar in the Far East, especially in Vietnam, Cambodia and China,' Ghanim said, speaking ahead of a Palestinian investment conference in Ramallah.

'I believe 40 percent of our growth in construction projects (will be) mainly in Africa, North Africa and Cuba,' Ghanim told Reuters in an interview. He added that the company's portfolio was now worth about $40 billion.

Qatari Diar is part of the country's Qatar Global Fund -- with other Qatari investors --of which 30 percent will be invested in real estate in China, Vietnam and Cambodia, Ghanim said.

'We have good relations with big investors in Hong Kong to invest $2 billion in real estate development,' Ghanim said.

Despite currency fluctuations, Ghanem said Qatar remained committed to its currency's peg to the dollar.

'I think this is a matter of political connection between Qatar's riyal and the dollar,' he said. 'We commit to keeping our currency (pegged) to the dollar for the future.'         

Qatari Diar and partner CPC Group bought London's Chelsea Barracks from Britain's Ministry of Defence for 959 million pounds in January.

The firm's affiliate Barwa Real Estate Co, for which Ghanim is also the chairman, is part of a Qatari consortium building the 1.3 billion pound ($2.54 billion) Shard of Glass development near London Bridge.

'We plan to invest more in London, because it is an international city ... We would like to invest in real estate mainly in Europe,' Ghanim said.

He also said Qatari Diar had bought a French industrial firm for 1.5 billion euros ($2.34 billion), but declined to name the firm as the deal was not public yet.

Qatari Diar, which now operates in 35 countries, is also set to sign a deal with prominent Palestinian businessman Bashar Masri, owner of Massar International, to invest in a $350 million project in a new Palestinian town in the West Bank, Ghanim said. - Reuters




Tags: property | Qatar Diar |

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