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Qatar Liquidates Assets in Southeast Asia

Qatar Liquidates Assets in Southeast Asia

Thursday, 22 March, 2018 - 10:45
A general view of Doha, Qatar. (AFP)

Qatar Holding LLC is selling its entire shareholding in China and Hong Kong department store operator Lifestyle International Holdings Ltd and Lifestyle China Group Ltd for an aggregate $662.83 million.

Lifestyle International Holdings Ltd said on Wednesday its substantial shareholder Bellshill Investment Company, a unit of Qatar Holding, will sell its entire 23.16 percent stake in the company for HK$4.45 billion through a share placement.

Bellshill plans to sell 371.12 million shares of Lifestyle International at HK$12 apiece in the share sale.

Lifestyle’s chairman Thomas Lau has agreed to buy 280 million shares, lifting his direct and indirect shareholding in the company to 69.16 percent from the current 51.69 percent.

The Qatar unit has also agreed to sell 371.12 million shares, equivalent to 23.16 percent, of Lifestyle China Group Ltd for HK$753.4 million.

Lifestyle's Lau will buy 186 million shares, raising his direct and indirect shareholding in the firm to 63.3 percent from 51.69 percent.

The reason for the sale of the shares was not given.

In October 2014, Qatar's sovereign fund agreed, through its unit Bellshill, to buy 19.9 percent of the department store operator in Hong Kong and China from Chow Tai Fook Jewelry and Lau’s family for $616 million.

Last week, Qatar’s sovereign fund sold a stake of about $640 million in Veolia Environment SA.

In the months following the crisis between Qatar and four Arab countries, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, Qatar's foreign assets were sold, with the Qatari sovereign fund cutting its direct stake in Russia's Rosneft from 9.75 percent to 4.7 percent, Credit Suisse Group in August and Tiffany & Co luxury jewelry stores in September.

Doha is considering selling more assets.

According to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, Qatar Investment Authority, which was created to handle the windfall from the world’s largest liquefied natural gas export base, currently has about $320 billion of assets. However, after the economic crisis, the fund spent just $3.5 billion on investments last year, compared with $20 billion in 2016.

The crisis between the four countries and Qatar erupted in June.

They severed their economic and diplomatic ties with Doha, accusing it of financing and supporting terrorism.

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