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Qatar may buy stakes in three “blue-chip” companies and increase existing holdings, the Gulf state’s prime minister said.

“We cannot build all our reserves on one kind of investment, so we have to spread it,” Hamad bin Jasim said in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We are talking with two to three companies at the moment. We are looking for the blue-chip companies.”

The country is considering investing in financial services, industrial companies and tourism, said bin Hamad, who is also head of the country’s $58 billion sovereign wealth fund. Qatar is reviewing the targets’ assets and liabilities and is seeking companies with stable dividends. He declined to identify investment candidates.

Sovereign wealth funds have been hurt as oil prices dropped from record highs and the turmoil in the credit markets eroded the value of their existing investments. The prime minister said the credit crisis had “minimally” affected Qatar’s investments.

“Up to now, we are in a good shape, and still we are making acquisitions,” he said.

With a population of less than 1 million, Qatar owns the world’s third-biggest natural-gas reserves and 1.3 percent of the world’s crude-oil reserves. The emirate’s sovereign wealth fund was set up to invest in businesses not linked to oil and gas.

Barclays Stake

Bin Hamad said Qatar would “very seriously” consider raising its stake in Barclays Plc if the London-based bank seeks more capital. Barclays raised 5.3 billion pounds ($7.6 billion) in October by selling securities including convertible notes to Middle Eastern investors such as Qatar Holding.

Barclays lost two-thirds of its market value in the three weeks ended Jan. 23 on speculation it would need to raise more money or be taken over by the U.K. government to cover toxic assets. The shares rebounded 96 percent after the bank said Jan. 26 it won’t need additional capital, even as it takes about 8 billion pounds of writedowns in 2008.

“Right now, we are not worried about Barclays,” the prime minister said. “We in fact have a strong belief that Barclays will get over this problem.”

Bloomberg


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