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Thu 12 Apr 2007 12:22 PM

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Qatar's Barwa buys $542m Paris building

Purchase marks Qatar's second European real estate acquisition this month.

Qatar's Barwa Real Estate Co. said on Wednesday it had bought a Paris convention centre for 404 million euros ($542 million) and planned to convert the property into shops and apartments.

Barwa is the second Qatari company to announce a real estate acquisition in Europe this month. Qatari Diar Real Estate & Investment Co.

bought the Chelsea Barracks in London

, newspapers including the Financial Times said.

The government of Qatar, which has the world's third largest gas reserves, owns Qatari Diar and 45% of Barwa.

Barwa, among 27 bidders for the project, would spend another 140 million euros renovating the building, the company said in a statement on the Doha bourse website.

Barwa's development plan for the International Conventions Hall included building residential apartments, commercial premises and a seven star hotel, the statement said.

Barwa will lease the building to the French foreign ministry for two years before considering the next phase of the project, it said.

Barwa bought several Paris properties through one of its funds last year, the statement said.

Investors linked to the Qatari government are scouring the globe for assets to invest windfall revenues from energy exports.

The state-owned fund, Qatar Investment Authority, which owns Diar, is in

talks to buy as much as 10% of Airbus parent EADS

, the government said last month.

The government-backed Delta 2 fund lost out last year on an 8 billion pound ($15.82 billion) bid for Britain's Thames Water.

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