Qatar Investment Authority Tools Up with Banker Hires

The Gulf state sovereign wealth fund is keen to emulate larger peers such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Qatar Investment Authority CEO Faisal Al-Hamadi: Portrait by Chris Buzelli

(September 3, 2013) -- The Qatari sovereign wealth fund has reportedly gone on a hiring spree as part of an effort to become one of the market’s bigger players.

The fund, which has more than $100 billion under management, has hired bankers and other financial industry executives in the past two months to diversify its investment portfolio and move assets out of their current European exposure.

A report on Reuters declared the sovereign wealth fund to have hired Ugo Arzani, most recently a managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London, as its new head of consumer and retail investments.

Jason Chew, previously the head of Greater China operations at Pramerica Real Estate Investors, is also believed to have joined as the head of Asia real estate.

The two new signings follow that of Hong Kong-based banker Michael Cho, who joined as the head of mergers and acquisitions in August, and Deutsche Bank’s Stefan Frank as its head of strategy in July.

Hiring internal staff is all the rage with sovereign wealth funds today: the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) appointed the former head of Asia Pacific equities at Legal & General Investment Management to run an internal team last week, alongside Suresh Sadasivan, who was brought on board as head of Asia, ex Japan.

The Qatari recruitment drive has been pushed through by the recently appointed Chief Executive Ahmed Al-Sayed.

"Ahmed is extremely ambitious and knows very well that to create a global wealth fund you need people with experience in Asia and the U.S. The current team is very smart but their expertise is mostly in Europe," a source told Reuters.

"Knowing him, he must be thinking about taking to the fund to the next level, to the likes of Abu Dhabi's ADIA or Singapore's Government Investment Corporation of Singapore. Nothing less will do for him."

A greater in-house presence could also lead to a bigger level of direct investments. A report from the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute in August found the trend of bringing investment decisions in-house  directly correlated with the number of direct investments being completed.

One area where the Qatari sovereign wealth fund will have to do considerably more to catch up with its Gulf peers is in the area of transparency: it ranked in the bottom five of the industry’s International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds’ transparency rankings.

Related Content: SWF Newcomers Ignoring Transparency Concerns and Qatar SWF Goes Public With Fund Management IPO  

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