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Qatari Gas Money Buys Chunk of Empire State Building

The sovereign wealth fund of Qatar (the Qatar Investment Authority) purchased 9.9 percent, or approximately US$622 million, in the firm owning and operating the Empire State Building.

As originally reported by CNNMoney, Empire State Realty Trust COO John Kessler praised the purchase announced on Tuesday as an "endorsement" of the company's "irreplaceable assets."

He also called the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) “one of the most sophisticated and reliable real estate investors in the world”.

Other major shareholders of the Empire State Realty Trust includes Norway's massive sovereign wealth fund, investment firm Shinko Asset Management of Japan, and Australian real estate investor Resolution Capital.

In the approximately eleven years since it was founded, the QIA has also claimed stakes in famous business such as Tiffany, Volkswagen and Credit Suisse. Yet this most recent purchase gives QIA a nearly 10% of the Empire State Realty Trust, which comes as part of a push by the QIA last year to boost investment in the United States by US$35 billion over a span of five years.

The QIA’s moves is the latest jewel in the crown for a Qatari country eager to promote itself as an advancing economic state wealthy from petrodollars. Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and has been on a building boom, although public revenues have been hit hard by the precipitous drop of global oil prices from over US$100 a barrel in the summer of 2014 to around US$50 now.

The QIA, which is estimated to be worth about US$335 billion by the Las Vegas-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, has been increasingly eyeing opportunities in the U.S. Last September, QIA announced plans to open an office in New York, though it did sell its share of film studio Miramax to Qatar-based media group beIN in March for an undisclosed sum.

By Erwin Cifuentes for Oilprice.com

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