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Sun 4 Nov 2007 04:00 AM

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QIA cuts portfolio dollar exposure

Around 60% of portfolio invested in other currencies.

QIA cuts portfolio dollar exposure
HE Sheikh Hamad: the QIA has moved most its investments into other currencies, but has no plans at present to reduce dollar exposure further. (Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the state's US$50 bn sovereign wealth fund, has slashed its exposure to the dollar by more than half over the past two years, it has been revealed.

Around 40% of the QIA's portfolio is now in dollars, with 40% in euros and 20% in other currencies including sterling.

Prime Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, who also heads the QIA, told CNBC television: "Before we are almost 99% in dollars. Since two years we are 40% dollars.

"This is because all our income from oil and gas comes by dollars. So we need some other windows."

Sheikh Hamad indicated that the QIA was not planning to further reduce its exposure to the dollar, but wanted 40% of its assets to be Asian.

Firas Mallah, head of Middle East, Dexia Asset Management, said: "We've seen this phenomenon happen on a more discreet note with other investment authorities in the region.

"We don't believe that any sovereign entities in the region have 100% exposure to the dollar - obviously not. They diversify globally to diversify their exposure and their investment risk."

He added: "It just makes sense that if you have an investment authority with a very long term horizon, you would start shifting your exposure into growth areas. Today, with all the growth happening in Asia, investors who are sophisticated enough would look at that opportunity and try to optimise their exposure so that they would benefit from those opportunities."

Mallah said that he anticipated more countries in the region might consider following Kuwait's lead and moving from a dollar peg to a basket of currencies, but said that the dollar would continue to be a dominant component as long as it remains the currency used to price oil and gas.