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Sat 31 Jan 2009 11:14 AM

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Qatar to invest in 'blue-chip' companies

The credit crisis has 'minimally' afftected Qatar, according to the prime minister.

Qatar may buy stakes in three “blue-chip” companies and increase existing holdings, the Gulf state’s prime minister has said.

“We cannot build all our reserves on one kind of investment, so we have to spread it,” Hamad bin Jasim said in a Bloomberg Television interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday.

“We are talking with two to three companies at the moment. We are looking for the blue-chip companies.”

The country is considering investing in financial services, industrial companies and tourism, said Bin Hamad, who is also head of the country’s $58 billion sovereign wealth fund.

Qatar is reviewing the targets’ assets and liabilities and is seeking companies with stable dividends. He declined to identify investment candidates.

Sovereign wealth funds have been hurt as oil prices dropped from record highs and the turmoil in the credit markets eroded the value of their existing investments.

The prime minister said the credit crisis had “minimally” affected Qatar’s investments.

“Up to now, we are in a good shape, and still we are making acquisitions,” he said.

With a population of less than 1 million, Qatar owns the world’s third-biggest natural-gas reserves and 1.3 percent of the world’s crude-oil reserves.

The emirate’s sovereign wealth fund was set up to invest in businesses not linked to oil and gas.

Bin Hamad said Qatar would “very seriously” consider raising its stake in Barclays Plc, if the London-based bank seeks more capital.

Barclays raised 5.3 billion pounds ($7.6 billion) in October by selling securities including convertible notes to Middle Eastern investors such as Qatar Holding.

Barclays gained 5.8 percent to 106.1 pence in London trading, outperforming the Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index, which rose about 0.7 percent.

Barclays lost two-thirds of its market value in the three weeks ended Jan. 23 on speculation it would need to raise more money or be taken over by the U.K. government to cover toxic assets.

The shares rebounded 96 percent after the bank said Jan. 26 it won’t need additional capital, even as it takes about 8 billion pounds of writedowns in 2008.

“Right now, we aren’t worried about Barclays,” the prime minister said. “We in fact have a strong belief that Barclays will get over this problem.” (Bloomberg)

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Lord Noble 11 years ago

London is now very underpriced for those investors who prefer real estate in London. Prices have fallen by almost 50% in some instances and because £ Sterling is so weak up to 30% can be saved by investors with other currencies to bring to the Uk market. See: http://www.buckingham-estates.com/ Tim