Qatar now one of New York's biggest commercial owners

Qatar now one of New York's biggest commercial owners
3 min read
14 May, 2017
Qatar's sovereign wealth fund now holds some 10.69 million square feet of real estate in New York, making it one of the biggest commercial owners in the state.
Qatar has invested $622 million in the company that owns the Empire State Building [Getty]

Qatar's sovereign wealth fund has become one of the top property owners in New York, a new report has found.

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which also owns real estate worth billions of dollars in London and Paris, now holds some 10.69 million square feet of real estate in New York.

This marks a 145 percent increase since March last year, according to commercial real estate intelligence group CoStar.

The QIA, which has now become the ninth largest property holder in New York, has recently invested $622 million in the company that owns the Empire State Building.

The August purchase gained the QIA a 9.9 percent stake in the Empire State Realty Trust, which manages what used to be the world's tallest skyscraper.

Qatar has been looking to buy more assets in the US and Asia after traditionally focusing on European markets.

Wealth fund officials have previously said they would invest $35 billion in the US by 2020.

"Internationally, New York real estate is a safe place to park assets," Michael Maduell, president of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, a research outfit based in Las Vegas, told business website Crain's New York.

"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."

According to Crain's, the QIA opened up an office in Manhattan at the start of 2015's fourth quarter.

Since then, Real Capital Analytics estimates that the fund has been involved in $3.8 billion in New York City property acquisition deals and $6.5 billion in US acquisition deals overall.

In October last year, national carrier Qatar Airways announced the acquisition of up to 100 Boeing aircraft worth $18.6 billion.

Further investment

Qatar, which will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is a major natural gas producer that also pumps crude oil.

It has investments totalling billions in the UK in sectors including construction, retail, banking, energy, and transport.

In March, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani announced his country would invest £5 billion ($6.23 billion) in the UK over the next five years in a boost for the post-Brexit economy.

"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," he said at the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum in London.

Qatar has already invested more than £40 billion ($50.1 billion) across the UK, including in iconic real estate including London's Shard building and the Harrod's department store.

The QIA's property development arm, Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment, has also announced plans to transform the US embassy in London into a five-star hotel as part of its latest developments across the city.

The company bought the listed building in 2009, and the US is expected to move its diplomatic presence in London to Vauxhall this year.