Qatar was the top sovereign wealth buyer of European property in the last 12 months, spending 3.5 billion euros ($ 4.3 billion) on eight deals including the London Olympic athlete’s village and a mall on Paris’ Champs Elysees, data from a research firm showed.
For Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), that spending during the year to mid-August equals only about six weeks of revenue from its LNG exports, according to Reuters calculations.
Sovereign wealth funds view top-quality property in the best locations as a safe bet in the global financial crisis.
“For sovereign wealth funds like the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), property deals are about wealth preservation, not returns,” said Joseph Kelly, director of market analysis at Real Capital Analytics (RCA).
“They have a lot of money to spend, so deals tend to be big and in the cities they know well.”
Gas market traders estimate that Qatar earned $36 billion in LNG revenue in 2011, though an exact figure is hard to obtain from available data.
Qatar was beaten into second place as the biggest overall property investor in Europe by Blackstone, which spent 4 billion euros on 19 deals, which included office blocks and industrial units, the RCA data showed.
The QIA has spent 5.7 billion euros on real estate since 2007, almost 80 percent of it in London and Paris, RCA said.
The QIA has more than $ 30 billion to spend on investments this year alone, an executive board member said in April.