Night scene of the skyline of Doha with towers are seen at Al Dafna Area in Doha
Night scene of the skyline of Doha with towers are seen at Al Dafna Area in Doha

Qatar’s $320bn wealth fund seeks to catch up on tech

By Fiona MacDonald And Matthew Martin Time of article published Dec 21, 2019

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INTERNATIONAL - Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is seeking to increase investments in technology companies, unfazed by recent declines in the sector, its chief executive officer said.

The Qatar Investment Authority “will keep investing in technology as it is the most important sector right now,” Mansoor Al Mahmoud told reporters in Doha Sunday. “We think we are underweight” and are “trying to catch up.”

Middle East sovereign wealth funds have been beefing up their investments in the industry after previously spending billions of dollars on trophy assets, such as London real estate and stakes in global banks. The QIA, which has assets of about $320 billion, hired Bank of America Corp. dealmaker Tristan Lacroix to bolster its push into technology, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in September. 

While some technology startups have generated huge amounts of wealth over the past decade, companies like WeWork and Uber Technologies Inc. have been unable to match private market valuations. 

QIA has invested in companies including Foursquare Labs Inc., biotech firm Rubius Therapeutics Inc., Homology Medicines Inc., Thoughtspot Inc. and Grail Inc. as part of the expansion of its venture capital unit, people familiar with the matter said last December. The fund in 2017 said it would open an office in San Francisco to focus on the technology industry. 

Tech Push

Qatar isn’t alone in its tech push. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co. are also opening offices in Silicon Valley to get better access to rapidly growing start-ups.

The fund will also continue investing in the U.K., Al Mahmoud said, after Boris Johnson‘s landslide electoral victory last week cleared the way for the government to push ahead with leaving the European Union. “The U.K. is an international market and we always continue investing in the U.K.,” he said.

The QIA said in September it had spent 90% of the 5 billion pounds ($6.7 billion) it committed to invest in the U.K. in 2017.


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