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DOHA: Qatar is studying a proposal to invest in the commodities trading arm of US investment bank Morgan Stanley, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister said yesterday.
“We probably need a few more weeks to review the details, but we are looking at it seriously,”
H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani told a news conference without elaborating on any terms of an investment.
Morgan Stanley has been in discussions with Qatar for more than a year over the sale of at least a majority stake in its energy-focused trading business, according to bankers.
From an estimated peak of $3bn in 2008, Morgan Stanley’s commodities trading revenues have dropped sharply, partly because of the Volcker rule that bans banks from proprietary trading and partly because of capital constraints.
Earlier this month banking sources said the talks had run into difficulty and the deal might need to be reworked if it were to go ahead.
One source said the hitch was not about price but about the structure of the deal, which would see the divested unit run by the existing commodities team at Morgan. Bankers said the parties had looked at two deals: the sale of a majority stake, at least 75 percent, and the sale of the whole unit, with commodities managers at Morgan Stanley taking a 20 percent stake funded by private equity.
Meanwhile the Prime Minister said that Qatar, the second-largest investor in miner Xstrata, looks favourably on the company’s proposed $32bn takeover by commodities trader Glencore.
Asked if Qatar would support the tie-up, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem said: “We are looking in favour of a merger between the two companies.”
But he stopped short of signalling whether the state would vote in support of a final offer from Glencore, made last month. Shareholders, who could get a date for a fresh meeting this week, are expected to vote early next month.
“It is under a lot of consideration and focus,” he said.
He did not comment specifically on whether Qatar was satisfied with all aspects of the revised offer, not least the management change that would bring in Glencore’s chief executive, Ivan Glasenberg, at the helm of the combined group.