Qatar’s Masraf to invest $1bn this year


Qatari Islamic lender Masraf Al Rayan said on Tuesday it plans to invest up to $1 billion this year buying stakes in companies and investing in funds in sectors from telecommunications to real estate.

Masraf expects to complete up to five investments this year in the Gulf Arab region and Asia through its investment banking unit, Al-Rayan Investment, which started operations in early March, the unit's Chief Executive Asad Zafar said.

"We're looking to invest from $500 to $1 billion in various companies," Zafar told Reuters in a telephone interview from Doha.

"It's a fantastic time to come into the market because of problems the US and Europe are experiencing...asset values are correcting, so there are opportunities," he said, referring to a global credit crisis stemming from US subprime mortgage market defaults.

Al Rayan was looking to complete three to five "major transactions" in the telecommunications, real estate, media, and food and beverage sectors, Zafar said, without being more specific.

The firm would also consider setting up companies that comply with Islam's ban on the payment or receipt of interest.

Those firms would buy into conventional firms, and modify their operations so that they comply with Islamic law, which also bans investments in areas such as alcohol and gambling. (Reuters)