Developing

EXCLUSIVE-Qatar looks beyond C.Suisse for M&A head-sources

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

said.

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

assets.

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

source.

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

world.

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)