DUBAI, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Qatar's sovereign wealth
fund is seeking to diversify its banking relationships by
looking beyond close adviser Credit Suisse for the
next head of its internal mergers and acquisitions unit, sources
The chosen candidate -- possibly a secondee from one of the
other banks -- will head M&A implementation at the Qatar
Investment Authority, a high-profile job given the acquisitive
gas-rich Arab state's desire to build a global portfolio of
In June, Credit Suisse said that Anthony Armstrong, who had
been loaned to Qatar Holding, the investment arm of QIA, was
moving to become co-head of Americas M&A.
"They (QIA) have been talking to banks (for a replacement)
for the last six months," said one source, who said that QIA
appeared keen to take a banker on another secondment.
Another source said the reason it was taking this long was
that Qatar wanted to diversify away from Credit Suisse, the bank
with which it is most familiar, while a third source said it was
the Swiss bank that had indicated its inability to supply
another banker to the Qataris.
"The top dealmaker spot has been kept empty," said a fourth
QIA and Credit Suisse declined to comment.
Qatar owns a sizeable stake in Credit Suisse, bought during
the last financial crisis.
The Swiss bank has traditionally enjoyed a close
relationship with Qatar and has advised it on a range of deals
over the past two or three years including, most recently,
Qatar's financing proposal for European Gold Fields.
But one banker said that Credit Suisse had missed out on a
key role in Qatar's $2.9-billion stake buy in Iberdrola
, and of late Qatar has used some
other banks, with Citigroup prominent as an adviser to its
$5 billion bond deal.
Armstrong advised Qatar on its high-profile acquisition of
London department store Harrods.
The region's sovereign wealth funds, state-owned bodies
which invest countries' oil wealth, are among the largest in the
Official figures are not released regularly, but analysts
estimate the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) to have
assets of $400 billion-$600 billion, Kuwait's fund around $300
billion and fast-growing Qatar in excess of $100 billion.
Analysts say that the funds are likely to turn more
selective in the coming year due to pressure on them to invest
domestically and owing to concerns about a fall in the oil price
if global growth slows sharply.
(Additional reporting by Regan Doherty, Mirna Sleiman and
Rachna Uppal; Editing by David Cowell)