Wed, 03 Mar 2010

$1b Qatari Investment Fund Nears Realization

by Janeman Latul

After months of uncertainty, Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the sovereign fund Qatar Investment Authority, is on the brink of establishing a wholly owned investment vehicle in Indonesia with start-up capital of $1 billion, a senior Indonesian official said on Tuesday.

Gita Wirjawan, chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), said the investment company could be officially established by the end of the month. “Qatar is interested in investing in the infrastructure, energy and services sectors,” he said.

Gita said he met with Qatari officials in Doha in February and they had expressed their desire to push ahead with creating the firm. “We fully support the plan,” he said.

The original plan, announced after the signing of a memorandum of understanding in May 2009, called for a joint-venture investment firm, with Qatar taking an 85 percent stake and the Indonesian government the remainder.

However, Hilmi Gasim, an assistant to Alwi Shihab, special presidential envoy to the Middle East, told the Jakarta Globe on Monday that preconditions set by the Qataris made the government hesitate to finalize the deal, and the government’s indecision led the Qataris to seek to create a wholly owned venture.

Alwi has previously said the Qataris wanted the MoU to supersede any future regulatory or legislative changes to ensure protection of their investments, a condition the government was reluctant to accept.

Qatar Holding was established as the Mideast state’s main vehicle for strategic and direct investments. The Qatar Investment Authority was founded in 2005 to diversify the country’s investment of its surplus oil and natural gas revenues. It manages an estimated $62 billion in assets.