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|10 December, 2018

Qatar Investment Authority has accelerated investments in technology - CEO

In the United States, the fund is focusing on "classic" sectors such as real estate, financials, and technology

Photo used for illustrative purpose only. A man walks on the corniche in Doha, Qatar, June 15, 2017.

Photo used for illustrative purpose only. A man walks on the corniche in Doha, Qatar, June 15, 2017.

REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

DOHA- The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has accelerated its investments in technology and is keeping the door open to strategic partnerships for technology investments, its CEO said on Monday.

In the United States, the fund is focusing on "classic" sectors such as real estate, financials, and technology, Mansour Ibrahim al-Mahmoud told Reuters on the sidelines of an event in Doha, adding this was until the QIA revisits its strategy in the near future.

"We have already accelerated and we have done several investments in technology and we will keep the momentum until we increase our pie," he said.

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His comments came after sources told Reuters that Qatar's $300 billion sovereign fund was exploring more acquisitions in the technology sector.

QIA and hedge fund Elliott Management Corp in December 2017 took Gigamon Inc, the U.S. networking software company, private for $1.6 billion. 

Mahmoud said the fund was open to strategic partnerships in technology investments, but did not provide more details.

The QIA's board was restructured last month as part of a broader government reshuffle, with Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani appointed chairman.

The fund injected billions of dollars into Qatari banks last year to offset outflows from Arab banks after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a diplomatic and commercial boycott on Doha.

Mahmoud was appointed CEO last September, replacing Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani. He had previously worked at the QIA, heading risk management.

The QIA has held talks with technology-focused private equity funds and is also considering purchasing direct stakes in technology firms and startups in a sector it is relatively underweight compared with other state-backed funds, say sources.

The technology shift will pit the Qatari fund against Saudi-backed SoftBank and the Public Investment Fund, which have bought significant stakes in technology firms such as Uber.

Financial sources said the QIA's technology focus was part of a rebalancing of its portfolio towards the United States and Asia after building up a large European portfolio such as a stakes in Credit Suisse, London Stock Exchange and Volkswagen.

"Technology is a massive buzz and they see themselves underweight," said a financial source who has held talks with QIA. "They will be looking for like-minded partners who have expertise in technology."

(Additional reporting by Tom Arnold in Dubai; Editing by Mark Potter) ((Nafisa.Eltahir@thomsonreuters.com;))

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