• Kevin Murphy

Qatar Holdings : A Tale of Two Cities

The Arab emirate State of Qatar just added a new property to its impressive portfolio this week by purchasing the 282-room Plaza Hotel in New York City. The property built in 1907 was reportedly purchased for nearly $600 million by Katara Hospitality the hotel management group for the government of Qatar.

The hotel previously had a 75% stake by India’s Sahara Group and the remaining 25% by Ashkenazy Acquisition Group and its partner Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal.

Michael Maduell, president of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, a Las Vegas

data firm tells Amrock:

“Internationally, New York real estate is a safe place to park assets.”

“And wealth funds are sometimes willing to pay more for assets than real estate fund managers. They’re buying assets for the long term — like 20 to 30 years.”

Other acquisitions by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is a 9.9% stake in the real

estate investment trust (REIT) that controls the Empire State Building. It is reported that the QIA’s tenable rental space in New York City is at 10.7 million square feet as of March 2017 an increase of 145% year over year.

Total investment in New York City property investment is $3.8 billion and another $2.7 billion for other acquisitions in the United States. QIA is expected to make additional property purchases in New York by 2020 boosting its portfolio in real estate to $35 billion.

Other transactions are at the 72-story condominium Trump World Tower in New York City.

Mansion Global reports that Qatar’s permanent mission to the United Nations putting its $3.5 million three-bed Trump tower condominium on the 14th floor up for sale. Also purchased is a 2,800 square foot apartment on the 52nd floor in January for $6.5 million. Other residents include Saudi Arabia with a 10,000 square foot unit on the 45th floor.

Qatar is now the owner of four apartments in the Trump Tower with one apartment being a three-bed unit with panoramic views of the city.

The Trump building location is popular with the representative countries at the United Nations for its close proximity to their offices.

The Qatar United Nations Mission also owns a penthouse valued at $19 million at 50 UN Plaza designed originally by Foster+Partners, Zeckendorf Development and Global Holdings.

London Holdings

By far the most popular city for the Qatar Investment Authority for property investment has been London. The QIA have acquired and now own an impressive number of London landmark properties. the QIA now own more properties that in London than the Mayor of London’s Office and three times more than HM Queen Elizabeth II in a survey by The Telegraph.

Here is a sample of their property holdings:

Canary Wharf Group Investment Holdings with co-owner Qatar Holdings of QIA along with American investment group Brookfield now have 21.5 million square feet of space in their property holdings making them London’s largest property owner.

The QIA property holdings include a number of iconic properties including the tallest skyscraper in Europe The Shard with a 95% stake

Legendary department store Harrods on Brompton Road, Knightsbridge was bought for a reported £1.5 billion in 2010 from the owner Mohammed Al Fayed.

A branch of the QIA, Qatari Diar, purchased at the conclusion of the 2012 London Olympics Games purchaed the Olympic Village for £557 million. The Daily Mail had reported that the British government had lost £500 million in the deal that could bring a £1 billion profit for Qatari Diar.

Qatari Diar also purchased in 2009 the former 600-room American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, for a rumoured £5 billion.

One property that is considered the worlds most expensive apartment block is One Hyde Park which former Qatar prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani owns half of with his development company Waterknights.

The purchase of Chelsea Barracks from the Ministry of Defence for the 52,000 square metre former military installation to construct over 400 homes in 2007 was purchased for £900 million.

One other is the London Stock Exchange which the QIA bought a 20% stake in 2007 but has decreased its holding over the past few years to just 10%.

Claridge’s, The Berkeley, and The Connaught hotels were purchased in 2015 from the Barclay brothers and whilst the sum of the acquisition was not publicly known speculation is the purchase was somewhere around £1.6 billion.

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