Qatar Holding to launch $12bn investment firm

New unit of Gulf state's SWF will invest globally in shares, bonds and real estate

Qatar Stock Exchange.

Qatar Stock Exchange.

Qatar Holding, a unit of the Gulf Arab state's sovereign wealth fund, will launch a new investment firm worth US$12bn to purchase assets globally, a top official said on Tuesday.

Qatar Holding vice-chairman, Hussain al-Abdullah, who is also a board member of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), said the company would be listed on the Doha stock exchange in six to eight weeks.

"You name it - shares, bonds, real estate, private equity. We will look at every sector in every country around the world," he told reporters in the Qatari capital.

The listing on the Qatar Exchange will have QAR6bn in paid-up capital with half from Qatar Holding with the remainder raised from the private sector. An IPO is open only to Qataris but foreign investors can buy in later, he said.

"This is a global investment company to invest overseas, not in Qatar," he said, adding it planned to guarantee a five percent dividend in its first year.

Qatar Holding is the investment arm of the gas-rich state's sovereign wealth fund. With an investment appetite of about US$30bn a year, QIA has picked up stakes in high-profile Western assets such as miner Xstrata, automakers Volkswagen and Porsche, and luxury retailer Harrods.

Qatar is spending billions of dollars on overseas acquisitions and has invested in poorer Arab states partly to boost its political clout.

Listing the new firm locally is aimed at attracting Qatari investors - and more foreign ones - to the Qatar Exchange market. The Qatar Financial Center is keen to position itself as a financial hub to rival Dubai.

"The Qatari government is trying to encourage investment among the local population, including share ownership," said a Doha-based analyst, declining to be identified.

A big issue facing investors in the tiny Gulf Arab state, the world's richest country per capita, is the low foreign ownership of Qatari companies. This has prompted equity index provider MSCI to retain the country's frontier market status for four consecutive years, delaying a much-anticipated upgrade.

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