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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The small Middle Eastern country of Qatar has become the ninth-largest owner of commercial property in New York City. The standing of Qatar Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund, was revealed in the recent ranking of New York's largest commercial owners by CoStar.

The entire country of Qatar is a mere 8.2 percent of the size of New York state, but has the world’s highest per capita income, mainly due to it being the top exporter of liquid natural gas. According to Crain’s News, “The Arab country's investment fund is believed to manage upward of $250 billion in assets. After its investments in Anglo-Swiss commodity trading and mining conglomerate Glencore and German auto manufacturer Volkswagen went sour, Qatar's sovereign wealth fund was willing to pay premiums for New York real estate.”

The Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute’s, a research outfit based in Las Vegas, president Michael Maduell said, "Internationally, New York real estate is a safe place to park assets. And wealth funds are sometimes willing to pay more for assets than real estate fund managers. They're buying assets for the long term—like 20 to 30 years."

Last August, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) bought a 9.9 percent stake in the Empire State Realty Trust REIT, which manages the Empire State Building ass well as other properties. By the end of March 2017, the QIA owned a total of 10.69 million square feet of rentable building area, which was up 145 percent from the year before.

Crain’s reports, “The QIA opened up an office at 9 West 57th St. at the start of 2015's fourth quarter. Since then, Real Capital Analytics estimates that the fund has been involved in $3.8 billion in New York City property acquisition deals and $6.5 billion in U.S. acquisition deals overall. More New York City transactions figure to come given the QIA's plans to invest $35 billion in the U.S. through 2020. “

Maduell believes that sovereign money will continue to be invested into the United States. 

He said, "With the political headwinds dying down from the election, I think capital will flow into the U.S. The tone has changed. I think of a lot of wealth funds are even more bullish on America, whether it's real estate or the innovation economy. They want access to venture capital investments."

By Mark Snyder