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Thu 14 Jul 2011 11:39 AM

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Qatari Diar cuts staff, costs in strategy overhaul

State-backed property firm said to be eyeing shift from investment to development

Qatari Diar cuts staff, costs in strategy overhaul
Qatari Diar has plans to develop Londons Chelsea Barracks site in a $4.8bn overhaul

Qatar sovereign fund's property investment arm,
Qatari Diar, is eliminating staff and cutting costs as the company seeks to
overhaul its strategic goals, a regional daily reported on Thursday.

Qatari Diar has cut 30 positions in recent weeks,
bringing staff count to 350, down from its peak of 600 employees two years ago,
The National reported, citing sources close to the company.

In addition, Qatar's Finance Minister Yousef Hussein
Kamal has replaced Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Al Thani as chairman of
the company last month, sources told the paper.

Qatari Diar declined to comment on the staff
reduction or the appointment of a new chairman.

The company, which has plans to redevelop London's
Chelsea Barracks site, is in the process of deciding whether to be an
investment company or a property developer as its refocuses its strategy, one
source told the paper.

The company's regional projects include mixed-use
projects in Syria and Yemen and a resort in Morocco worth nearly $1.5bn combined,
according to its website.

It also owns the 71-storey mixed-use Shard Tower in
London.

Qatar plans to spend over $125bn in the next five
years on construction and energy projects according to its new development
strategy.

The tiny Gulf Arab state, the world's largest
exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), is facing an oversupply of commercial
and residential property with more units expected to enter the market soon.

"The real estate market has been muted in
Qatar, just as we have seen in UAE," said Philippe Dauba Pantanacce, a
Dubai-based senior economist at Standard Chartered.

"Qatar is still in an environment of large
oversupply. This will put pressure on real estate companies."

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