Qatar rushing to invest in Europe, Greece and Italy targets

Risanamento denies bid on its assets from Qatar Holding, Hines

22 July, 16:49


    (ANSAmed) - DOHA- Qatar is continuing to invest in Europe and is aiming in particular at Italy and Greece.

    Qatar Petroleum International (QPI) wrapped up its first investment in Greece, signing an accord with the GEK TERNA group to buy 25% of Greek electrical plant Heron II. According to Doha daily Gulf Times, Qatar's Energy and Industry Minister Mohamed bin Saleh Al-Sada took part in the agreement's signing ceremony yesterday in Doha.

    'This is an objective not just for our group but for all of Greece because it is the first time that a government company of Qatar and a worldwide protagonist invests directly in Greece's energy assets', said George Peristeris, CEO of GEK TERNA. 'I hope this is the first phase in the construction of a sustainable and productive partnership', added Peristeris.

    Another Qatari company, Qatar Holding, allegedly contacted shareholders in Italy's Risanamento to buy part of its real estate assets. In particular, Qatar's real estate giant is allegedly interested in Risanamento's properties in France.

    Though the total value of such assets is not known yet, the offer for the French properties should top 1.3 billion euros - the estimate given of real estate in France according to the public buying offer presented by Risanamento founder Luigi Zunino, today a minority shareholder after the entrance of banks Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit.

    But Italian developer Risanamento on Monday denied press reports of a bid on its Paris assets and its Santa Giulia redevelopment area from Qatar's sovereign fund and real estate company Hines, the company made known in a statement to the Italian Securities and Exchange Commission (Consob).

    ''Risanamento has not so far discussed the sale of its French assets. However, as the company has in the recent past been the recipient of certain requests for negotiation on said assets from foreign investors, a structured process for their evaluation has been undertaken''. The statement came after Risanamento shares rose almost 8% on weekend news reports of a possible offer from Qatar and Hines as an alternative to a bid by Risanamento founder Luigi Zunino, who still holds a significant stake in the company. Lenders Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit are the company's biggest shareholders. Zunino reportedly proposed they take over the company. The banks are considering his offer.

    The Italian real estate market remains a difficult business, especially for foreign investors. According to Riccardo Dallolio, head of European transactions for Axa real estate, one of the main problems for Italian real estate is lack of transparency.

    'An effort by operators to provide more detailed and clear information would benefit the entire Italian market', he said.

    'Another important point is the complexity of carrying out operations in Italy compared to other markets. There is a study by the World Bank according to which Italy ranks 73rd on how easy it is to do business and the same report puts it in 160th position out of 185 countries as far as the possibility of enforcing contracts is concerned', Dallolio told the Casa24 insert of Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore. (ANSAmed)

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