Qatar buys ‘major’ stake in British oil giant Shell

Qatar buys ‘major’ stake in British oil giant Shell

LONDON - Reuters
Qatar is continuing its overseas buying spree, snapping up a stake in Royal Dutch Shell and reportedly also eyeing a chunk of Italian oil major ENI.

A Shell spokeswoman confirmed that Qatar had bought a stake but declined to say how large. The Middle East Economic Survey had reported earlier that Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund was in “very advanced talks” to buy a 3-5 percent stake.

“We are delighted to welcome the Qatar Investment Authority as a long term and major shareholder in Shell, and particularly given our excellent strategic relationship with the Qatari state,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

A 5 percent stake would make Qatar Shell’s biggest single investor, according to Reuters data. Shell’s London-listed “A” shares were lifted by the news, rising 0.8 percent to trade at 20.66 euros on May 11 at 0859 GMT, against a 0.2 percent drop in the STOXX Europe 600 Oil and Gas index.

Eni shares traded up 1.2 percent at 16.77 euros. MEES had also reported the SWF was negotiating a stake in ENI. The Milan-based company declined to comment.

Shell operates multi-billion dollar natural gas projects in Qatar. The nation’s massive gas supplies have made it rich, allowing it to create a sovereign wealth fund that has been buying up assets, including stakes in listed companies, around the world.

Last month Qatar Holding, a unit of the fund, said it had increased its stake in French oil group Total to 3 percent and is undecided on buying more shares.

QIA has been the most active of the region’s sovereign wealth funds in recent years, deploying the Gulf nation’s plentiful natural gas riches in assets ranging from German sports car maker Porsche to Barclays .