Qatar buys stake in iconic Empire State Building

Qatar buys stake in iconic Empire State Building
The Qatar Investment Authority made a $622-million purchase into the company that manages New York's iconic Empire State Building on Tuesday.
2 min read
24 August, 2016
The purchase increased the Doha fund’s investments in the US [Getty]

Qatar's sovereign wealth fund has bought a stake into the company that owns New York’s Empire State Building, described as the latest iconic purchase for the small but wealthy Gulf state.

The Qatar Investment Authority made the $622-million transaction to the Empire State Realty Trust Inc, increasing the Doha fund’s investments in the US despite Qatar’s difficulty in coping with the low global oil and gas prices.

The announcement was made by the Empire State building’s company, The Empire State Realty Trust Inc. on Tuesday, which manages the 102-story, 1,454-foot (443-meter) -tall building.

The Doha fund would gain a 9.9-percent stake in the company, while the trust owns a total of 14 office properties and six retail properties around the New York area.

The Qatar Investment Authority did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The Empire State Building – once the world’s tallest structure – remains a major tourist attraction along the New York skyline and has been the centrepiece of major American films from "King Kong" to "Sleepless in Seattle."

Qatar, which is expected to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has been on a building boom, mirroring - on a smaller scale – a similar rise that gripped the United Arab Emirates' city-state of Dubai.

However, a drop in global oil price, which have fallen from over $100 a barrel in the summer of 2014 to around $50 now, has proven difficult for the Gulf state.

Despite this, the nation's investment authority, estimated to be worth some $335 billion by the Las Vegas-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, has been increasingly eyeing opportunities in the U.S.

Last September, it announced plans to open an office in New York and committed to investing $35 billion in the U.S. over the next five years.

Although it sold its share of the American film studio Miramax to Qatar-based media group beIN in March for an undisclosed sum, fund's existing American holdings include a more than 10-percent stake in New York-based luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co.

Government-backed Qatar Airways, meanwhile, has been rapidly expanding its operations in the U.S., provoking a backlash from American carriers.

Also among the Qatari fund's interests in America is a 44-percent stake in the $8.6 billion redevelopment project in New York known as Manhattan West, which includes remodelling the building that's now home to the global headquarters of The Associated Press.

The AP announced in August 2015 it planned to move from that building to another near the World Trade Center.