Where Is the Qatar Wealth Fund Investing?
With the Federal Reserve providing extraordinary stimulus to get the economy growing again and the European Central Bank offering to buy bonds to limit the damage from the euro zone debt crisis, Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr al-Thani said in a CNBC interview he’s worried about what it will mean for the value of the two major global currencies.
“I believe the value of money is diminishing,” the prime minister told CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”He said that without a comprehensive strategy to deal with the problems in the U.S. and Europe the value of the dollar and euro will decline.
Dealing with the issues piecemeal also has created anxiety for investors like the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), al-Thani said.
“What should happen is we should have a full package with a full strategy to solve the problems,” Al-Thani, the wealth fund’s chief executive, said.
There are other uncertainties that have to be cleared up as well. “Asia is slowing, which isn’t unexpected, given the strong growth the region has enjoyed over the past decade,” he said, but al-Thani added, “how much it is slowing still needs to be seen.”
In this environment, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is using periods of market strength to pare back some of its holdings as al-Thani expects the market to soften from here. (Read More: S&P 500 to Hit Record High in 2013: Strategist.)
But the fund is sticking with its strategic holdings and “buying more when the market goes down.”
The wealth fund is still investing when opportunities arise, but it is focusing on “good assets, good companies for the long-term to preserve wealth,” al-Thani said.
Among the holdings, the QIA continues to maintain its stake in Credit Suisse , calling the Swiss bank “an important global brand.”
Other financials remain a part of the investment portfolio. The fund recently pared back its holding in British bank Barclays and still has a small stake in Bank of America as well as a stake in Santander Brasil . (Read More: Bank Stocks Still Have Room to Run: Pros.)
The fund also spent about $5-6 billion in the last four or five months in real estate in Europe and the U.S. Even with the ongoing problems in Europe, al-Thani said “If there is a good opportunity, why not” invest.
The QIA is also a major investor in Xstrata , which is the subject of a takeover bid from commodities broker Glencore . While he couldn’t get into specifics about the deal, al-Thani told CNBC, “We have no problem with the new price,” Glencore offered for Xstrata. But added, “other aspects of the deal need to be studied.”