Qatari investments flow into France, from real estate to sports
Gulf country has more than 25 billion euros worth of assets in France
France is the second-largest European investment destination for Qatar after the UK, with assets of more than 25 billion euros ($26.7 billion), according to a study published Wednesday.
The Gulf country has 42 companies in France through direct holdings or firms mostly managed by the sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, a study conducted by Qadran, the Franco-Qatari economic circle, together with HEC Junior Conseil on the evolution of Qatari-French economic relations and diversification revealed.
Besides the acquisition of the star-studded Paris-Saint-Germain football club, Qatar’s imprint is spread almost evenly over the French economy, the study noted. This includes portfolio investments or shareholdings in companies like LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton), Balmain, Valentino, Le Printemps, TotalEnergies, Airbus, Accor and beIN Sports. Besides companies, the non-hotel real estate and luxury hotel sectors are prized investments for Qatari players.
According to the study, Qatar's stakes in real estate investments and financial activities represent 7.1 billion euros ($7.6 billion), 4.2 billion euros ($4.5 billion) in retail trade accounts, 3.4 billion euros ($3.6 billion) in transport and tourism, and 2.3 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in telecoms and media.
The Qatar-operated companies and holdings have raked in high profits in the last 14 years and their contribution to France’s gross domestic product (GDP) has increased from 2.13 billion euros in 2014 to 3.07 billion in 2019, an average annual growth rate of 7.5%, the study said.
Doha’s investment in France majorly began from 2005, when the Gulf country began to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons by diversifying its assets in foreign countries.
Qatar finds fertile ground in France to generate financial returns and set up its companies and position itself as a major player in tourism on a global scale, the study added. The two countries complement each other, as “France is looking for capital inflow and trade opportunities to reduce its trade deficit, (and) Qatar is a powerful provider of capital abroad,” the study highlighted.
France on the other hand has 200 multi-sector establishments in Qatar, which is the fourth-largest recipient of French foreign direct investment (FDI) with 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in the Middle East. French companies are very involved in the country's major projects, notably in infrastructure, transport and energy and have also been strongly mobilized to support Qatar in its preparation for the 2022 World Cup.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar has also opened new investment and trade opportunities for the two countries. France and Qatar have also entered into a partnership relating to the security of the global football event.