Qatar sovereign fund plans $35 billion in US investments

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar's government investment fund is making a big bet on the U.S. economy.

The OPEC member's Qatar Investment Authority said Monday it is opening an office in New York and is committed to investing $35 billion in the United States over the next five years. The announcement represents a major vote of confidence by the sovereign wealth fund in the U.S., a key ally of the small but energy-rich Gulf Arab nation.

The new office will give the fund better access to investment partners and help it pursue its goal of diversifying its portfolio, the QIA said.

"With boots on the ground, our presence in New York will anchor our interest in the region," Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani, the fund's chief executive, said in a statement. "It is the perfect location to help strengthen our existing relationships and promote new partnerships as we continue to expand geographically, diversify our assets and seek long term growth."

The fund, founded in 2005, and other Qatari government-linked investors traditionally have invested heavily in Europe, snapping up headline-grabbing trophies such as stakes in prominent London properties and the Paris Saint-Germain soccer team.

Well-known names in the QIA portfolio include Britain's iconic Harrods department store, stakes in banks Barclays and Credit Suisse, and a chunk of the company that runs London's Heathrow Airport. The fund is also a major investor in Volkswagen AG. That investment that has lost billions of dollars in value in recent days as the German automaker's share price plunged after it admitted rigging diesel emissions to pass U.S. tests.

The QIA's existing American holdings include a more than 10-percent stake in New York-based luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co.

Government-backed Qatar Airways, meanwhile, has been rapidly expanding the number of routes it flies to U.S. cities, provoking a backlash from American carriers.

Washington considers Qatar an important ally in the Arab world. The country's vast al-Udeid air base outside the capital, Doha, hosts American bombers, support aircraft and the forward headquarters for U.S. Central Command.

The Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute estimates the QIA manages some $256 billion in investments.


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