Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has not been liquidating foreign assets to support the country’s banking system since the embargo imposed on Qatar last June, according to the fund’s chief executive.
The embargo caused outflows of deposits from Qatari banks in the initial months. Outflows have now essentially ceased, removing the need for a government support operation.
However, HE the chief executive officer of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud al-Thani said, said the fund did not need to sell foreign assets to raise cash, and indeed was about to announce “the deal of a lifetime”.
“How can I liquidate assets – as they speculate – and at the same time I keep buying others,” Sheikh Abdullah was quoted as telling the Lusail newspaper.
“Two days ago, we signed a deal in Miami and we will announce it in the next few days,” he added without elaborating. Sheikh Abdullah said the QIA had a privileged position in global markets and would keep investing around the world.
He was speaking in the US as he accompanied His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who visited President Donald Trump last week. His Highness the Emir returned to Doha on Saturday.
The QIA’s investments in the US are stable and strong, and it has so far spent $35bn executing about 60% of its US investment plans for the period 2015-20, Sheikh Abdullah added.
Sheikh Abdullah said Qatar does not need to liquidate its investment assets to support the banking system and it has a strong economy and its financial budget is increasing year by year.
Sheikh Abdullah added that the QIA is continuing its operations and investments around the world, pointing out that there is a major deal in Miami to be announced in the next few days and will be the ‘deal of a lifetime’ for the Authority. He did not specify in which sectors or the cost of the deal.
Sheikh Abdullah also denied reports that the QIA disposed its assets around the world, pointing out that there may be normal sales to engage into other investments or seize the opportunity when the return on investment reaches its peak.
He also explained that the restructuring process carried out by the QIA for local companies during the last two years was successful and that these companies are growing significantly and continuously because they have distinct boards of directors and they adhere to the governance norms established by the QIA.
Regarding recent news that QIA has sold part of its stake in Russian energy giant Rosneft, Sheikh Abdullah said that this is not true, adding “our investments in Rosneft are one of the most successful investments, which are good and excellent, and we did not sell any part of our stake, and what happened were only discussions with the Chinese side.”
In recent months the QIA has, among other deals, reduced its stakes in upscale jeweller Tiffany & Co and Swiss bank Credit Suisse.
A banker in the Gulf, who does business with the QIA, told Reuters he understood the disposals were due to portfolio adjustments and assets presenting attractive profit opportunities, rather than the result of any scramble to raise money for use within Qatar. The QIA is looking for investment opportunities in the US and Asia, the banker said.
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