Harrods and The Shard were just the beginning for the mega-rich emirate…
Ah, Qatar. Today news has broken that the mega-rich Arab emirate might snap up the 164-year-old chain House of Fraser. This comes just weeks after it was rumoured to be eyeing up M&S (read my comment on whether we should have cared that the iconic supermarket could have fallen into foreign hands).
Have you spotted a theme here? Qatar is snapping up London icons faster than you can say Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. We first reported on its London spending spree back in 2011, by which time it had already invested upwards of £10bn in London. And the oil state has been dripping in even more money since then…
The Shard: 95% owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund
The tallest skyscraper in Europe, at some 72 storeys, is a very visual reminder of how powerful Qatar’s sovereign wealth, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), now is in London in property ownership terms.
In 2012 it was calculated that Qatar is the richest country by per capita income – so it’s no surprise that Emiratis bought almost one in 30 London homes worth more than £2m in the past year.
Harrods: owned by Qatar Investment Authority
Perhaps to fuel the consumer appetites of the increasing numbers of its 1.7 million citizens buying property in London, in 2010 Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund bought Harrods for £1.5bn.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani told the FT in 2010: “We are investing everywhere. Even your Harrods – we took it.”
Barclays: 6.67% owned by Qatar Investment Authority
This stake might not seem as significant as the other chunks of London owned by the emirate, but it still makes Qatar Barclay’s biggest stakeholder.
At the time Qatar was seen as a white knight investor, avoiding our government from having to bail out another British bank by helping it raise £7m capital in 2008.
It sold off its last remaining warrants used to raise the capital in November 2012, only for multiple accusations of wrongdoings in January and February this year. Barclays was accused of lending £6m to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund in a complex deal so it could avoid government bail-out. Read more about this story.
The Olympic Village: owned by Qatari Diar
This prime patch of London 2012 legacy was acquired by Qatari Diar, a branch of the ruling royals’ QIA fund that handles property, for £557m in August 2011.
The deal was said to leave UK taxpayers £275m out of pocket. The site was sold by the Olympic Delivery Authority. The Qataris have said they will build more than 1,400 homes on the site.
Chelsea Barracks: owned by Qatari Diar
The property arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth has been dithering over its £3bn plans for this £1bn site of late. Throughout January and February it was unclear whether the project would go ahead at all, but last month Qatari Diar chief executive officer, Khalid El-Sayyed, announced that work had begun to build 450 luxury apartments and more than 120 affordable homes.
The fund got planning permission for the site in 2011 but only had a five-year window to start work.
Sainsbury’s: 26% owned by Qatar
This chunky stake makes Qatar the largest stakeholder of Sainsbury’s. It upped its stake in 2007 through its investment vehicle Delta Two, having previously owned juts under 18%.
One Hyde Park: joint venture between Qatari Prime Minister and Candy Brothers
It’s the world’s most expensive apartment block, with one five-bedroom flat notoriously on the market for £65m.
The £1bn block is owned by by Guernsey-registered Project Grande (Guernsey) Limited, a joint venture between the Candy’s CPC Group and Waterknights, the development company owned by Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.
But is this uber-rich playground actually a good investment? Find out in our investigation: One Hyde Park: failure or fortune-maker?
Camden Market: 20% owned by Qatar
Unlikely as it may seem, the grunge capital of London is indeed one-fifth owned by Qatar, since it acquired a stake of the same size in property group Chelsfield, which owns the market. The QIA’s Hussain Abdullah said the investment offered a good opportunity to buy up further assets. No doubt in London.
London Stock Exchange: 20% stake
Qatar bought up the one-fifth stake of LSE in 2007, and took a 9.98% stake in Nordic exchange OMX at the same time. Borse Dubai bought a 28% stake in LSE at the same time. LSE CEO Xavier Rolet has written us before on why he believes the London Stock Exchange must be international – it’s worth a read.
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