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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Malaysian properties catch eye of Qatar fund

DUBAI: Qatar Investment Authority, the Persian Gulf country's US$60 billion (RM3.15) sovereign wealth fund, plans to invest in real-estate projects in Asian cities and said it's considering buying distressed US property assets.

"We are focusing on prime cities in India, China, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia, cities around the world where there is strong GDP (gross domestic product) growth and fundamental unmet demand for high quality real estate," Navid Chamdia, head of real estate at Qatar Investment, said in an interview at a wealth funds conference in Abu Dhabi late on Monday.

"About 40 per cent of our real-estate investments will be in Asia."

The Qatar Investment Authority has been investing in property in the past 2 1/2 years to diversity its holdings. The investments, either in developing new property or renovating existing buildings, will be made mainly through joint ventures with local partners, and they will have a long-term holding period of at least seven to 10 years, Chamdia said.

With a population of less than one million, Qatar owns the world's third-biggest natural-gas reserves and 1.3 per cent of global crude-oil reserves. The emirate's sovereign wealth fund manages US$60 billion for the state, Citigroup analysts including Carsten Stendevad estimated in an October report. It holds stakes in the London Stock Exchange and Credit Suisse Group.

Qatar Investment Authority last week bought a 27 per cent stake in a Vietnamese property fund, Dragon Capital, which will buy into offices and serviced apartments in Ho Chi Min City. It may also look to invest in individual projects with the fund.

The Qatari fund in February bought a 15 per cent stake in an Indian office complex being built at the Bandra Kurla complex in Mumbai by the Chatterjee Group and US firm Starwood Capital. It also owns 49 per cent of one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

The fund is evaluating buying commercial properties in the US that are financially distressed.

"We anticipate several opportunities in the US for mezzanine financing, and individual distressed assets," Chamdia said. "We are looking at a number of these opportunities with several partners."

State-managed funds in countries including Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and South Korea have ballooned to US$3.2 trillion in assets.

By Bloomberg

1 comment:

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