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Wed 28 Mar 2012 02:53 PM

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Qatari Diar eyes emerging market investments

The property firm has been on a buying spree in Europe

Qatari Diar eyes emerging market investments
"We are always looking for opportunities around the world."

Qatari Diar, the property arm of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, is eyeing investments in emerging markets this year, the company's chief executive said on Wednesday.

The property firm, whose worldwide portfolio includes 49 projects valued at over US$39bn, has been on a buying spree in Europe as part of the Gulf Arab state's strategy of employing its natural gas riches to diversify its income flows.

"We are always looking for opportunities around the world... I can say that we are now looking into the emerging markets," said Mohammed Hedfa, the group CEO for Qatari Diar told reporters in the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

He declined to name which specific countries.

Qatari Diar pushed aggressively into Europe last year, most recently buying the athletes' village in London's Olympic park for US$906m along with UK developer Delancey Estates.

Other investments include funding the redevelopment of London's Chelsea Barracks and the building of the Shard skyscraper. In the UK, it also invested in the Harrods department store and the US embassy site in Grosvenor Square.

Diar has no plans to issue a bond this year and will not need any external sources of funding for its projects, Hedfa said.

"For our projects, we are part of the sovereign fund... so we don't need to raise any money from external sources," he said.

Qatari Diar made its first significant investment in the US property market last April with a US$700m deal to build a development in Washington DC. Hedfa said it was actively looking at other opportunities in the United States.

The company cut staff and reduced costs last year in a strategy shift, as it began a process to decide whether to be a property developer or an investment company.

"We are concentrating now on real estate development," said Hedfa, adding that all the company's recent investments have been in the real estate sector.

Hedfa said the company will be hiring more staff this year following the cuts seen in 2011.

"We start to be selective with our projects and definitely we need to be more selective with our team. Hopefully we'll start to recruit soon because we have more projects coming."

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