Qatar's sovereign wealth fund acquires major stake in Shell

Qatar's sovereign wealth fund has acquired a major stake in Royal Dutch Shell as part of the country's plan to invest in western assets from the wealth of its gas fields.

Shell yesterday confirmed that the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) had acquired a significant stake in the company, but declined to say how large it was or how much was paid.

"We are delighted to welcome the Qatar Investment Authority as a long-erm and major shareholder in Shell, and particularly given our excellent strategic relationship with the Qatari state,'' a spokesman for the London-based company said.

The Middle East Economic Survey had earlier said that Qatar was in advanced talks to buy a 3 – 5 per cent stake in Shell worth up to £6.5 billion ($10.5 billion).

Analysts say that Qatar would have acquired a not larger than 3 per cent, since under the UK rules it would be required to disclose any holding above that level.

Even a 3-per cent stake would be worth €4.94 billion ($6.4 billion) based on the company's current share price, which would make Qatar the third largest shareholder in Shell after US investment management firm BlackRock and British financial services company Legal & General.