Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund hopes to appoint former French president Nicolas Sarkozy in a senior role at a new private equity fund, according to a newspaper report.
London’s Financial Times cited anonymous sources claiming that Qatar Investment Authority alongside other investors were prepared to back Sarkozy, who lost last year’s presidential race to socialist Francois Hollande, with up to €500m to run the new fund.
Sarkozy’s leadership of the potential new fund has been put on hold in recent weeks however as he seeks a return to French politics amid declining public sentiment toward Hollande, two people close to the matter reportedly said.
“The Qataris are taking an option on the next president of France,” a third source familiar with the venture told the FT.
The newspaper said that Sarkozy was keeping the wealth fund option on the table as a backup if a mooted return to the political frame, which his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is said to oppose, fails to materialise.
According to the FT, Sarkozy has already consulted friends on how and where best to invest the Qatar-backed fund, with emerging markets including Brazil and Morocco, as well as Spain, being discussed.
Any new fund would be based in Paris with Sarkozy in a non-executive role. He would not invest funds himself, but would instead open doors and originate transactions by taking advantage of his political connections.
A spokesperson for Sarkozy refused to elaborate on the matter when contacted by the FT. “Mr Sarkozy receives business proposals regularly and he hasn’t said yes to any yet,” they said.