When news emerged that Qatar may have unwittingly helped bail out a New York skyscraper owned by the family of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, eyebrows were raised in Doha.
Kushner, a senior White House adviser, was a close ally of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – a key architect of a regional boycott against Qatar, which Riyadh accuses of sponsoring terrorism. Doha denies the charge.
Brookfield, a global property investor in which the Qatari government has placed investments, struck a deal last year that rescued the Kushner Companies’ 666 Fifth Avenue tower in Manhattan from financial straits.
The bailout, in which Doha played no part and first learned about in the media, has prompted a rethink of how the gas-rich kingdom invests money abroad via its giant sovereign wealth fund, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The country has decided that the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) will aim to avoid putting money in funds or other investment vehicles it does not have full control over, according to the sources, who are familiar with the QIA’s strategy.
“Qatar started looking into how its name got involved into the deal and found out it was because of a fund it co-owned,” said one of the sources. “So QIA ultimately triggered a strategy revamp.”
The QIA declined to comment.
Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management Inc bailed out 666 Fifth Avenue via its real estate unit Brookfield Property Partners, in which the QIA acquired a 9 percent stake five years ago. Both parent and unit declined to comment.
The QIA’s strategic shift was made late last year, according to the sources. It offers a rare insight into the thinking of one of the world’s most secretive sovereign wealth funds.
The revamp could have significant implications for the global investment scene because the QIA is one of the world’s largest state investors, with more than $320 billion under management.
The wealth fund has poured money into the West over the past decade, including rescuing British and Swiss banks during the 2008 financial crisis and investing in landmarks like New York’s Plaza Hotel and the Savoy Hotel and Harrods store in London.
Kushner was chief executive of Kushner Companies when it acquired 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007 for $1.8 billion, a record at the time for a Manhattan office building. It has been a drag on his family’s real estate company ever since.