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Qatar's $450 Billion Investment Fund Seeks Opportunities in Soccer and Technology

The head of Qatar’s $450 billion sovereign wealth fund said it will use the current economic turmoil as an opportunity to rebalance its portfolio.

January 16, 2023
3 minutes
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The head of Qatar’s $450 billion sovereign wealth fund said it will use the current economic turmoil as an opportunity to rebalance its portfolio. He said the fund is considering investments in soccer, financial institutions and tech.

Mansoor Al Mahmoud, Chief Executive Officer of the Qatar Investment Authority, said in a Bloomberg Television interview at Davos on Monday that the Authority is looking for opportunities in Europe, Asia and the US in sectors such as venture capital, fintech and sustainability. The World Economic Forum returns to the resort during the winter for the first time in three years this week.

"It's a challenging time for the global economy, with inflation being the main topic of discussion," he said. "However, we see this as an opportunity to reposition our portfolio. We highlight the weaknesses we have in our portfolio and wait for corrections in the market to fulfill these weaknesses."

Sovereign wealth funds from the oil-rich Gulf region continued to be active acquirers last year, even as global deal volumes fell and banks cut bank lending for acquisitions. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) agreed to invest €2.4 billion ($2.5 billion) in RWE AG in October, to back the German utility’s purchase of US renewable assets. It was also a cornerstone investor in sports car brand Porsche AG’s IPO, and has invested in a string of tech startups.

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is known for its willingness to invest in trophy assets. During the 2008 financial crisis, the QIA backed lenders such as Barclays Plc and Credit Suisse Group AG. In recent years, the QIA has shifted its focus to closely-held tech companies in growth markets. However, with soaring energy prices, the QIA is returning to its roots with big-ticket deals.

Financial institutions are still a very important part of our portfolio, and we will continue to invest in them. We're also moving into fintech, which is another area where we see great potential.

After Qatar successfully hosted the most expensive World Cup ever, the fund is also considering investing in soccer clubs. However, it has not yet decided whether to make any specific investments, Al Mahmoud said.

He said that the decision to go public is very commercially driven, with sport becoming an increasingly important theme for investors. Digitalization is making sports more attractive to investors, he said, and people are more engaged in sports than ever before.

According to Bloomberg News, Qatar is targeting top British Premier League clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur. Qatar already owns Champions League club Paris Saint-Germain through Qatar Sports Investments.

Al Mahmoud said that the fund supports Elon Musk's vision for Twitter Inc., despite the turmoil that has accompanied the US billionaire's takeover, which has triggered an exodus of workers.

We work closely with Tesla's management team, including CEO Elon Musk, and we believe in their ability to turn the company around. We trust Elon's leadership and vision for the future of Tesla.

The QIA hasn't asked the Twitter chief to cut back on tweeting, and trusts that he will manage it professionally.

Bryan Curtis
Eric Ng
John Liu
Editorial Board
Bryan Curtis
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Cathy Hills
Associate Editor

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