Created in 2005, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is far from being the largest compared to those of other oil-monarchies in the region. By way of comparison, that of Kuwait, created in 1953, holds more than 730 billion dollars in 2022 (745 billion euros). But with 460 billion dollars in assets (470 billion euros), the Qatar Investment Authority (Qatar Investment Authority, QIA) is still a major player.
The QIA invests the financial surpluses of the State generated through the sale of gas and oil, with a stated goal: “Generating long-term income for its shareholders”, i.e. the 330,000 Qatari citizens. The fund also has the task, if necessary, of “to support the national economy”. It thus refinanced local banks when they were put in difficulty by the blockade imposed by neighboring Saudi Arabia, between 2017 and 2021. Finally, the QIA can invest in companies in Qatar, “with the aim of meeting market needs”.
Most of the assets are placed abroad, in order to generate a rent. The fund is quite discreet about its holdings, but a certain number of its investments are known: the QIA is very present in real estate, banks, distribution, health, industry, etc.
In France, it has invested more than 25 billion euros in the purchase of Paris Saint-Germain, luxury hotels in Paris, the department store Le Printemps and minority shares in many CAC 40 companies. The QIA is also a shareholder in Germany of Volkswagen, Deutsche Bank and the energy company RWE. It invests 50% of its assets in listed shares, 20% in bonds and 30% in direct equity investments.
Securing your sources of supply
The goal is to spread the risks: “Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund invests in a multitude of areas with a dual objective of diversification and profitability”, explains Seltem Iyigun, economist for the Middle East and Turkey zone at Coface.
“Qatar’s goal is to generate income, but also to acquire know-how which is repatriated on the spot, nuance Samy Chaar, chief economist of the Swiss bank Lombard Odier. Qatar has gas, but lacks water, food, medicine which must be imported. They need to secure their sources of supply. »
The Qatar Investment Authority is currently managed by Mansour Ben Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, a close associate of the Emir who has made a career in banking and administration. “The Qatar fund has been able to attract a large number of good specialists who provide professional management”, confirms a banker. He only takes limited risks with what constitutes his woolen stocking.