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Gulf’s vanity deals continue

Gulf’s vanity deals continue

As Qatar Holding helps knock over Miramax, and regional investors continue to eye the Detroit Pistons, Kipp is wondering whether these kinds of investments will ever pay for themselves.

December 5, 2010 4:42 by

Investors in the Gulf love a glamorous purchase. Hardly a week has gone by these past few months without ultra rich individuals or funds from the region being linked with one high profile deal or another.

The business sections of Gulf newspapers this weekend, for instance, have been buzzing with the news of a potential Middle Eastern investment in NBA team the Detroit Pistons. At the same time, away from the sporting arena, Qatar Holding has just been confirmed as part of a deal to buy Miramax, Walt Disney’s one time celebrated film subsidiary.

These high profile purchases are far from the first of their kind (who can forget the massive, ongoing investment in Manchester City by Abu Dhabi’s Shiekh Mansour?) and it has got Kipp wondering: what drives these glamorous investments? Will they make the Middle East its money back? We aren’t convinced. More likely it is a tradeoff between profitability and prestige – a compromise investors seem only too willing to make.

For what it’s worth, the purchase of the Detroit Pistons is still in the discussion phase, and has been for a while (we wrote about it here). Apparently investment groups in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar are engaged in separate discussions about the purchase of the basketball team for around US$500 million (Dh1.83 billion).

The Miramax deal has also been in the pipeline months, and is just another in a number of big purchases involving Qatar Holding. Last month, The Daily Mail reported that the company has appointed advisers for a potential £1bn bid for May Bourne Group, the owner of the Connaught, Coleridge’s, and Berkeley hotels in London. Prior to that, it acquired the prestigious UK department store Harrods. At the time Ahmad M. Al Sayed, chief executive officer and managing director of Qatar Holding said, “It is a privilege for us to acquire Harrods, a unique company that combines an iconic luxury brand and one of the most prestigious retail properties in the world with best-in-class financial metrics.”

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