Qatar pledges to invest $4 bn in Spain

March 1st, 2011 - 11:44 am ICT by IANS  

Doha, March 1 (IANS/EFE) Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero left Qatar Monday with pledges from the emirate’s government to invest 3 billion euros ($4.14 billion) in Spain’s economy, including 300 million euros to shore up the European nation’s battered savings banks.The money will come from Doha’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.

“We have confidence in the Spanish economy,” Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani told reporters during a joint press conference.

“We are carrying out reforms for recovery and the Qatari investment represents a certificate of confidence,” the Spanish premier said after Sheikh Hamad announced the QIA would provide 300 million euros to recapitalise Spain’s savings banks, known as “cajas”.

Though the Qatari prime minister’s announcement mentioned only the money for Spanish banks, members of Zapatero’s delegation said the QIA had pledged to invest a total of 3 billion euros, while Sheikh Hamad suggested Doha is interested in Spain’s telecom and energy sectors.

Zapatero also met with Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who will travel to Madrid in April to seal accords boosting investment and eliminating double-taxation and to discuss possible Spanish-Qatari joint investment funds to fund ventures in Latin America.

The QIA spent just over 1.95 billion euros ($2.69 billion) last year to acquire a 5 percent stake in the Brazilian subsidiary of Spain’s biggest bank, Grupo Santander.

Zapatero took advantage of Monday’s talks in Doha to emphasise Madrid’s full backing for any Spanish companies that bid on the 150 million euros ($2 billion) in infrastructure projects Qatar is planning in preparation to host the 2022 soccer World Cup.

–IANS/EFE
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