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29 June 2016

Interview: Brexit a chance for Qatari investors to expand UK assets – QFB CEO

The sudden correction in British real estate prices and the weakening of sterling following the decision of the Britons to leave the European Union (EU) will encourage investors from Qatar to add up to their assets portfolio in the UK for a longer term, a top banker has said.

The post- Brexit challenges might force a revaluation of Qatari assets in the UK in the short term but challenges will create opportunities for Qatari investors to expend their realty portfolio in the country, Qatar First Bank (QFB) CEO Ziad Makkawi told Qatar Tribune.

“The turmoil and uncertainty brought about by the Brexit vote will create many opportunities.  We remain committed to deploying our won capital alongside our client to take advantages of the low realty prices,” he said.

One of the most high-profile investors in London, Qatar owns landmarks such as the Shard skyscraper, Harrods department store and Olympic Village as well as luxury hotels.

Qatar Also leads a consortium that bough the owner of the canary Wharf financials district last year.

According to a report, Qatar’s total investment in Britain is around $44 billion currently.

“The relationship between Qatar and the UK goes deeper than just its relationship with the EU and will continue to grow. It will be very interesting to see how the British pound behaves. Personally, I think, the UK economy on its own will be easier to understand and easier to manage than an entire economic bloc such as the EU.” Makkawi said.

Makkawi, however, said it is still very early to tell what the impact of Brexit will be on the UK and Europe let alone the impact on the Qatari economy.

Brexit will involve over two years of ‘divorce’ proceeding and things will not change overnight but there will be a lot of volatility, he said.

While the UK will be re-defining its relationship with Europe, he said, there will be issues to resolve internally in the UK.

Europe will be going through an intense transformation going forward, he said, adding and inward looking posture could further slowdown Eurozone’s already anaemic economic growth.

As a result, Brexit could have a negative impact on global growth and therefore on the demand for energy in general, he said.