Dexia Asset Management hints at Doha plans

Doha QatarDexia Asset Management has hinted it will seek to set up a Middle East base in the Qatari capital of Doha, an operation that could be supported by seed funding from the Qatari government.

A spokesperson said Doha, “with its strategic position in the Middle East, would be one of the obvious options to look at for any expansion of our presence in the region”.

Any decision to set up in Doha would likely be made by the company's new owner, GCS Capital, a Hong Kong-based private equity fund that last year paid €380 million to buy the asset management firm, a division of troubled bank Dexia.

The chief executive of GCS Capital, Huan Guocang, is a former non-executive director of the Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA), a state-funded body that promotes the development of a financial industry in Qatar.

One of the ways the QFCA aids the growth of asset management in Qatar is by offering seed capital as an incentive for international managers to come to the country.

In April 2012, Qatar Asset Management, a joint venture between Qatar's sovereign wealth fund and the QFCA, invested $250 million (€191 million) of seed capital in Barclays Natural Resource Investments, a private equity unit of the UK-based bank.

Qatar Holding, another division of the Qatar sovereign wealth fund, formed a joint venture with Credit Suisse in October 2012, Aventicum Capital Management, that will have a base in Doha.

Speaking to Funds Europe last week, QFCA chief executive Shashank Srivastava said the authority was talking to companies that already have a relationship with Qatar about further seeding deals.

The QFCA declined to name the companies it was in talks with, and Dexia Asset Management declined to say if it was in talks with the QFCA.

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