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Thu 20 Jun 2013 10:28 AM

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Qatar said to mull new $23bn UK investments

Cash-laden Gulf state already has assets and stakes worth $34bn in Britain

Qatar said to mull new $23bn UK investments

Qatar is planning to invest another £10-15bn ($15-23bn) in the UK in the next few years, bringing its total investment to nearly $57bn, it has been reported.

Qatar investments in the UK have reached QR125bn ($34bn), including stakes in grocery chain Sainsbury’s, BAA (British Airports Authority), London Stock Exchange, Barclays, the US Embassy building in Grosvenor Square and the Shard of Glass development, which is Europe’s tallest building, according to a report by The Peninsula newspaper.

There are also plans for a further £10-15bn ($15-23bn) worth of investment in the coming years, the report, which was based on an interview with outgoing British ambassador to Qatar, Michael O’Neill, revealed.

Qatari interest in the UK have surged in recent years, with the number of Qataris visiting Britain doubling in two years and trade between the two countries increasing.

Ambassador O’Neill said the number of applications by Qataris seeking UK visas increased from 17,000 in 2010 to 34,000 in 2012. “We do not have the exact figures for May and June, but until April 2013, it increased by 24 percent compared to last year,” O’Neill who is leaving Qatar by the end of this week due to personal reasons, was quoted as saying.

At the same time, the value of UK goods exports to Qatar rose from QR2.07bn in 2005 to QR7.5bn in 2012, up 16 percent compared to QR6.52bn in 2011, the report added.

The only negative aspect is that the value of Qatari exports to the UK has declined by 23 percent from QR27.45bn in 2011 to QR21.16bn in 2012, according to statistics provided by the British Embassy in Qatar.

The LNG shipment from Qatar to UK registered a decrease of 37 percent from 2011, as Qatar is shifting its LNG export base from Europe to Asia. The share of Qatar LNG export to Asia has now reached 73.5 percent share in January 2013, increasing of over 30 percent as compared with 56.4 percent in 2012, according to Barclay’s market research.

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