Tif­fany stake be­comes QIA’s lat­est cut

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - BUSINESS - By Matthew Martin and Drew Singer

Qatar’s sov­er­eign wealth fund sold a block of shares in lux­ury jew­elry re­tailer Tif­fany & Co. weeks af­ter re­duc­ing stakes in Credit Suisse Group AG and Ros­neft PJSC.

The Qatar In­vest­ment Au­thor­ity sold 4.4 mil­lion shares in a block sale val­ued at as much as $417 mil­lion via Mor­gan Stan­ley, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment pro­vided to Bloomberg by the U.S. bank on be­half of the holder. The fund still holds a stake of 9.5 per­cent af­ter the sale through sub­sidiary Qatar Hold­ing USA LLC, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment. The shares were of­fered at $94.40-$94.75 and priced at the bot­tom of that range, a 1.62 per­cent dis­count from the prior clos­ing price, a per­son fa­mil­iar with the process said.

The sale comes af­ter the QIA re­duced its di­rect share­hold­ing in Credit Suisse to 4.94 per­cent in Au­gust – the fund’s first re­ported sale of shares in the Swiss bank since 2008. The QIA and Glen­core Plc last week also agreed to sell most of the stakes they pur­chased in Ros­neft in De­cem­ber. Closely held CEFC China En­ergy Co. will pay about $9 bil­lion for most of the shares they pur­chased in De­cem­ber, leav­ing the Qatar fund with a 4.7 per­cent hold­ing.

The QIA, which was cre­ated to han­dle the wind­fall from the world’s largest liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas ex­port base, plans to spend most of what re­mains of its $45 bil­lion in­vest­ment tar­get on U.S. in­vest­ments as it seeks to diver­sify its as­sets, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mo­hammed Bin Saud Al Thani said Wed­nes­day. The fund, which has amassed a $320 bil­lion port­fo­lio around the globe, has bought as­sets rang­ing from Bri­tish bank Bar­clays Plc to To­tal SA and Glen­core Plc. It ranks as the ninth largest fund glob­ally, ac­cord­ing to the Sov­er­eign Wealth Fund In­sti­tute.

The QIA has in­jected al­most $40 bil­lion, out of to­tal re­serves of $340 bil­lion, to sup­port its econ­omy and fi­nan­cial sys­tem dur­ing the first two months of a diplo­matic stand­off with its Gulf neigh­bors, ac­cord­ing to Moody’s In­vestors Ser­vice Ltd. The fund in­jected de­posits into lo­cal banks to shore up liq­uid­ity as the on­go­ing Saudi-led cam­paign hurts lenders, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said in June. Cap­i­tal out­flows from Qatari banks were about $30 bil­lion in June and July, Moody’s said.

The QIA boosted its stake in Tif­fany to 8.7 per­cent at the end of 2012, ac­cord­ing to a 2013 reg­u­la­tory fil­ing. Tif­fany shares closed down 1 per­cent at $95.51 on the New York Stock Ex­change Wed­nes­day.

Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain and Egypt sev­ered diplo­matic and trans­port links with Qatar on June 5, ac­cus­ing the na­tion of sup­port­ing Sunni ex­trem­ist groups and Ira­nian-backed mil­i­tants. Qatar has re­peat­edly de­nied the charges. The dis­pute pits U.S. al­lies against each other in a strug­gle over po­lit­i­cal dom­i­nance in a re­gion that con­trols about a fifth of global oil sup­plies.

The QIA re­port­edly sold 4.4 mil­lion shares in the lux­ury jew­elry re­tailer.

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