Business Times

Qatar seeks stakes in CSE, Kalpitiya and other property

By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera

Qatar Holdings, the investment arm of the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority, is interested in various development projects ranging from a stake in the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), the Kalpitiya Tourism Zone (KTZ), the Colombo Commercial Property (CCP), and a host of sites in the South for hotel projects, according to official sources.

A preparatory team ahead of today’s arrival (visit) of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Ruler of Qatar, is in Colombo here at the moment and a group of six including the Deputy CEO of the Qatari Exchange has had initial discussions at a joint meeting with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the CSE on Thursday and a separate meeting with the SEC on Friday, a source close to the discussions told the Business Times on Friday.

He said the Qatar Holdings, which owns around 20% in the London Stock Exchange, will do a feasibility study of the CSE in an effort to invest in a 'sizeable' stake. “But the CSE has to be demutualised and made into a public limited company which is now being fast-tracked," he said. He added that much assistance by the World Bank team during the last year was obtained in this regard and within six months' time CSE's demutualisation will be completed. "The team wanted to know about the demutualisation, about CSE's IT platform, details on the transaction settlement time, legal framework, etc,” he said.

He added that the visitors are also eyeing tourism projects and looking at the KTZ and the Colombo Commercial Property at Sir James Pieris Mawatha for hotel projects. “They are also keen on real estate development and are scouting for land,” he said. There are 17 islands in the Kalpitiya area, which is a peninsula that separates the Puttalam lagoon from the Indian Ocean and is about 150 km away from Colombo. The source added that Qatar Holdings is interested in a large site in this area which will most probably include these islands. “They are eyeing mixed development for CCP,” he said.

He added that the Qatari leader will be accompanied by a group of leading Qatari investors who will explore the possibilities for mobilisation of more Qatar investment in the tourism industry and also infrastructure projects in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

During his two-day visit, he will hold bilateral talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and other ministers and officials. Several agreements covering improvement of bilateral relations in economic, trade, investment, cultural and industrial sectors are also scheduled to be signed during the visit.
Last month, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani, the Prime Minister of Qatar visited Sri Lanka.

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