Qatar keen to buy RBS and Lloyds stakes

Marion Dakers
QATAR plans to buy stakes in RBS and Lloyds Banking Group, the nation’s Prime Minister told David Cameron yesterday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani said when asked about the state-owned banks: “We are very open to any investment in the UK and we have discussed some.”

The Qatar Investment Authority already has several billion pounds tied up in the UK, including stakes in Sainbury’s, Barclays and Harrods.

The UK’s holding of 83 per cent in RBS and 40 per cent in Lloyds is not expected to be sold until at least September, once the Independent Commission on Banking reports on the possible break-up of UK banks.

Cameron, who is leading a trade delegation in the Middle East this week, also praised Qatar’s deal with Centrica yesterday, which will see state-run Qatargas deliver 10 per cent of the UK’s gas demand in an agreement worth £2bn.

Qatargas is to deliver 2.4m tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) a year for the next three years to Centrica, the owner of British Gas.

Cameron said the deal was “good for Britain, good for our energy security, good for jobs, and good for economic growth”.

Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw, who is accompanying Cameron on his tour, said he hoped the deal represents the start of a long-term relationship between the two countries.

The agreement is the first time a UK company has signed up for a long-term LNG supply.

The Qatar Investment Authority was set up in 2005 to diversify Qatar’s oil-driven economy.

The sovereign wealth fund has a 24 per cent stake in Canary Wharf owner Songbird, 15 per cent of the LSE and swathes of London property.