Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund will remain “very active” through the coronavirus pandemic as the oil-rich Gulf investor searches for deals in the health and technology industries, the country’s finance minister told the Financial Times newspaper.
Ali Shareef Al Emadi said the $320bn Qatar Investment Authority’s (QIA’s) “main focus” would be on its international investments as it used the market volatility and plunging asset prices to identify buying opportunities.
“The QIA is looking to invest in various sectors, specifically in the health and tech industries,” said Emadi, who is on the QIA’s board.
“We are looking at businesses that we believe will prove resilient over the long term, despite some negative effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The fund’s strategy mirrors that of other investment vehicles in the region, including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company, which view the economic chaos triggered by the pandemic as a chance to buy assets at knockdown prices.
The PIF has already bought stakes in Carnival, the cruise line operator, and large oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Repsol, Equinor and Eni. The Saudi fund is also putting up most of the cash for an investor group that has agreed to buy Newcastle United, the English football club, for 300 million British pounds ($372m).
Like other Gulf states, Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, is being hit by the double blow of the coronavirus and the collapse in oil prices. But as the planet’s richest nation in per-capita terms has substantial financial firepower to weather the storm.
Doha has announced a $21bn support package for businesses, including pumping $2.75bn being pumped into the local stock market. Emadi said the investment in local shares was through other state-affiliated funds, not the QIA.
“QIA’s main focus is on their international activities,” he said. “It will be looking at opportunities and I’m sure with these volatile markets opportunities will rise. The QIA is being very active and they will remain very active.”
The Qatari fund has traditionally been one of the Gulf’s most high-profile investors, snapping up trophy assets such as luxury department store Harrods and The Shard building in London. During the 2008-09 financial crisis it invested billions of dollars in financial institutions Barclays and Credit Suisse, and carmakers Volkswagen and Porsche.