UK gets a £5 billion boost from Qatar ahead of Brexit

Qatar looks to the long-term with its investments in UK infrastructure, energy, tech and property as the UK doubles finance available to £4.5 billion to support trade with the country.

Photo of the Shard, London, illustrating an article about Qatari investment in the UK
Qatar has provided the UK with vote of confidence in its post-Brexit future with an announcement that it will invest a further £5 billion from its sovereign wealth fund in Britain over the next three to five years.

Qatari investment a pre-Brexit boost

The announcement - which came as a boost to Prime Minister Theresa May as she prepared to begin the formal Brexit process on Wednesday - said the main focus of the new investment would be in infrastructure, energy, technology and property.Qatari investment in the UK already amounts to more than £40 billion with the Qatar Investment Authority already having bought such high profile assets as the Shard building, London's Olympic Village and Harrods department store, as well as taking a stake in the London Stock Exchange.Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani announced the investment during a visit to London for the first day of a Qatar-UK business investment forum hosted by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.

Qatari focus to be energy, infrastructure, real estate and technology

Sheikh Abdullah said: "Over the next three to five years, Qatar will invest £5 billion in the UK economy through various investment funds and relevant parties in Qatar - which will constitute another addition to its already successful investments in the UK. Our investments in the UK will focus on energy, infrastructure, real estate, services and other sectors."Ali Sherif al-Emadi, Qatar's finance minister, said Brexit would not have an impact on his country's investment strategy because Qatar was taking a long-term view, rather than assessing the prospects in the immediate future.

Confident in the UK economy long term

“If you take a longer view on it, we have a lot of confidence in the UK economy and we think there’s some opportunity in the market,” he said, while conceding that the post-referendum fall in the value of the sterling had had a negative effect on the assets the Qatar Investment Authority already held in the UK.He added: “Brexit will be a plus and minus for us. For a short-term investor looking at the pound, my assets are worth less. But we don’t look at it like that. There will be some accounting adjustments.”
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In an interview with the BBC, Mr al-Emadi said: "We always like the UK market, it has always been a good market. The way we look at our investment in any market, and especially in the UK, it is a very long term investment, so we don't look at any cycles up or down"So if you are talking about Brexit, I can go back to the financial crisis and tell you the same stories. We will do what we think is good for us, it is commercially viable, it has a good vision and a good impact."Asked if he thought the UK economy would be stronger or weaker outside the EU, he replied: "It is a lot to do with the policy the UK will take, but I think, knowing the UK market, I am very confident they will have a good future."

UK government invests up to £4.5 billion to support trade with Qatar

Mr Fox told the first day of the forum, which moved to Birmingham on Tuesday for a presentation of "investment ready" projects, that the UK would double the finance available - to £4.5 billion - from UK export finance to support trade with Qatar.“No trade between the UK and Qatar should fail for lack of finance and insurance," Mr Fox said. "That is why the UK government can give buyers and sponsors in Qatar attractive long-term finance to make sourcing from the UK more competitive.”

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