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Qatar moves on London real estate
Country aims to invest gas wealth while pound and prices are weak.
June 19, 2010 9:58 by Samuel Potter
Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has been buying up some of the highest quality properties in London, reports Bloomberg.
The country is moving to invest its vast gas wealth while the pound is low and prices are weakened. Last week Barwa Real Estate, a company controlled by the fund, agreed to buy Park House office and retail project (the largest development on London’s Oxford Street for 40 years) for $370 million. Last month the fund also bought Harrod’s department store, and last year it became the largest sharholder in Songbird Estates, which owns most of the Canary Wharf office estate, says the report.
Qatar is the world’s largest producer of liquified natural gas. Increased production coupled with higher prices have boosted the countries wealth, and a weak pound and lower real estate prices have made the UK a prime target for investment. The article quotes a report in the times that says the QIA wants to take full ownership of Songbird, and the fund is also aiming to grab a significant holding in London’s Savoy hotel and Grosvenor House Hotel.
“The return of the Qataris on the global real estate scene has been marked by an aggressive and bold investment strategy,” said a recent report from Jones Lang LaSalle. “As relatively young entities, Qatar-based institutions have shown a hunger for high-profile acquisitions and an eagerness to leave their footprint on the global map.”