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DEMANDING RESPECT: Qatar flexes its muscles with Xstrata strategy

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By holding out against Glencore's bid for mining giant Xstrata, Qatar is not just gunning for more profit from its stake, but showing Western financiers it won't be pushed around.

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September 6, 2012 5:23 by



“At the end of the day (Glencore Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg) is a trader, and is perceived to do a deal which squeezes out the opposite party. It looks like he has found his match in Qatar Holding this time.”

 

The banker added that there was pleasure among Gulf sovereign wealth funds in general at the sight of an investor from the region standing up to a big Western dealmaker.

 

“For a change, it’s good to see a Gulf investor calling the shots. You haven’t seen such a firm stand being taken publicly before,” he said. “These funds have lost a lot of money previously investing in European and U.S. companies.”

 

PUNCHING ABOVE ITS WEIGHT

 

After making its point through the Xstrata deal, Qatar is not necessarily going to be taking such an activist stand in many future investments.

 

“We might see some instances where they get more active, but it actually takes a lot of time and energy to take up these roles. I don’t think Qatar would want to be doing this on a normal basis,” Zeimba said.

 

Others, however, see Qatar’s assertiveness over Xstrata as very much of a piece with its desire to parlay its massive natural gas wealth into greater influence in economic, diplomatic and political spheres.

 

Qatar was a major supporter of Libya’s rebels last year and is playing a prominent role in the Syrian crisis. It has promised billions of dollars of financial aid to Egypt and other countries affected by the Arab Spring revolts.

 

“Qatar has always been known to punch above its weight. They have demonstrated a willingness to do that in every aspect of their economic, social and political spectrum,” said Khuram Maqsood, head of private equity at Saudi Arabia’s Al Murjan International, and previously an executive at a Dubai-based sovereign wealth fund.

 

“In the investment sphere, the Glencore/Xstrata deal is another extension of this desire to play in the big leagues.” (Editing by Andrew Torchia and Will Waterman)

 

By Mirna Sleiman and Dinesh Nair



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