The Financial Times, one of London’s most prominent publications, has reported that Qatar is in talks with the government of UK to invest up to USD 15 billion in several key infrastructure projects.
Sources close to the negotiations have revealed that discussions between the two parties have been held over potential investment schemes and whether a specific fund could be set up. Some of the investment opportunities exist in energy plants, road and rail projects and the Thames ‘super-sewer’ under London. A new nuclear reactor, worth 14 billion pounds, in Somerset could also provide a lucrative investment avenue. No confirmed timeline for the investment has been agreed as yet.
In recent years, gas-rich Qatar has bought several British assets including 80 percent of Western Europe’s tallest building, The Shard, Harrods and the US embassy building. Qatar is also funding the redevelopment of the 3 billion pounds Chelsea Barracks housing project. During the peak of banking turmoil, the Gulf state bailed out Barclays and emerged as its biggest shareholder. These ownership have been led by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), a sovereign wealth fund with tens of billions of pounds in assets and a global reach. After the Olympics, the QIA also took ownership of the Olympic Village, while it also owns 20 percent of the London Stock Exchange.
Last year, the government of UK had signaled that it would welcome any further investment by the Gulf state in infrastructure-related projects. Investment in aviation and roads infrastructure was seen as key to boosting confidence in the UK economy, which has failed to show significant signs of improvement after the global financial crisis.
While Qatar is smaller than Belgium in size, the Gulf state has vowed to increase its global influence and become a dominant player in the world’s political and economic arena.