Qatar Investment Authority undergoes organisational overhaul

17 May 2016

The sovereign wealth fund plans to shift $100bn worth of Qatari assets to new division

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), is undergoing an overhaul that will involve assets worth $100bn in Qatari companies transferred into a new unit and the abandoning of the name of Qatar Holding under which the fund has made high-profile international deals.

QIA’s stakes in companies such as Qatar Airways and Qatar National Bank will be placed into a new internal division named Qatar Investments, news agency Bloomberg cited unnamed people with knowledge of restructuring as saying. The fund seeks greater oversight by having a single person in charge. Ahmed Aa-Rumaihi, a former Qatari diplomat in the US, will head the unit, they said.

The Qatar Holding platform, through which Doha made international investments including Glencore and Barclays, will now be replaced by the QIA, the people said. The country isn’t planning to allocate any new money to the QIA this year or withdraw funds and has asked it to rely on asset sales or dividend income for new investments, according to the news agency.

The QIA declined to comment, while calls to Al-Rumaihi’s mobile phone weren’t answered.

The changes are among the biggest undertaken by the fund since royal family member Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani was appointed chief executive officer in 2014. Under him, the fund is boosting its focus on Asia and the US as it seeks to diversify the geographic assets base.

QIA in March made a $1.34bn worth of real estate investment in Los Angeles in a joint venture with local partners Douglas Emmett. The sovereign wealth fund announced in late 2015 that it planned to invest $35bn in the US to diversify its geographical footprint. It then acquired a 44 per cent stake in the $8.6bn Manhattan West mixed-use development project in New York.

Under former CEO Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, who was also Prime Minister and foreign minister of Qatar, QIA embarked on an international acquisition spree that included buying assets including London’s Harrods and the Shard office tower.

QIA is also hiring senior executives as part of the organisational restructuring. Phil Dunne, the former chief financial officer at Citigroup Alternative Investments, has recently joined as CFO, while Ole Christian Frøseth is the new head of fixed income. The QIA has also recruited Darren Winstone from UAE’s Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) as its new head of passive investments in April, sources told Bloomberg.

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