Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has voiced his support for a third runway at London Heathrow airport in a speech to the Aviation Club in London on 17 October.
“Heathrow is bursting at the seams and has already reached a critical point,” Al Baker warned.
“The UK cannot afford to lose out on the huge benefits a third runway would bring to the economy in southeast England and the country as a whole through the creation of more jobs and more business opportunities.”
Warning that Heathrow is losing out to neighbouring European hubs with pro-expansion policies, Al Baker spoke of a potentially “catastrophic situation” for the UK economy.
Britain’s transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, announced last month that the government’s long-awaited consultation into expanding airport capacity in southeast England would now defer publication of its findings until 2015.
That followed two earlier postponements of a predecessor consultation this year, prompting accusations that Prime Minister David Cameron is dragging his feet on the issue.
Echoing those sentiments, Al Baker remarked: “The UK government cannot afford to immerse itself in long-winded debate and public enquiries. Action needs to be taken.”
He added that while London Mayor Boris Johnson’s proposal for a four-runway hub on reclaimed land in the Thames Estuary is a “good idea”, the project would take two decades to complete and the UK urgently needs a near-term solution.
“During this period, we will see airports expand significantly across the continent, and of course in my region,” he noted.
“Not just in the UK, but governments around the world need to wake up to reality of doing business today. Air corridors should be opened up to give passengers more choice.”
In August, Qatar Holding, a subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund the Qatar Investment Authority, bought a 20% stake in Heathrow’s owner and operator BAA, which has since rebranded itself Heathrow Limited.
The Qatari government holds a 50% stake in Qatar Airways, with the remaining 50% being held by private shareholders.
Qatar Buys Stake in Heathrow Owner for 900 Million Pounds
Qatar Holding LLC, the investment arm of the Middle East country’s sovereign-wealth fund, agreed to pay 900 million pounds ($1.4 billion) for a 20% stake in BAA Ltd., which owns London’s Heathrow airport, Europe’s busiest hub.
Qatar Holding will acquire a 10.62 percent stake in FGP Topco Ltd., BAA’s parent company, from Ferrovial SA (FER) for 478 million pounds, the Spanish infrastructure company said in a statement today. Qatar Holding also agreed to buy a 5.63% stake from Britannia Airport Partners and 3.75% from GIC Special Investments Pte Ltd., according to the statement.
Qatar Holding LLC , the investment arm of the Middle East country’s sovereign-wealth fund, agreed to buy a 20% stake in Heathrow airport owner BAA Ltd. for £900 million ($1.4 billion).
“The sale of this stake in BAA is part of Ferrovial’s strategy of establishing a market valuation of our assets and improving the structure of our investment portfolio,” Ferrovial Chief Executive Officer Inigo Meiras said in the statement.
Qatar uses wealth accumulated from the world’s third- largest gas reserves to acquire regional and European assets. Qatar Holding bought Harrods Ltd. in 2010, and the sovereign wealth fund has taken an 11.6 percent stake in Swiss miner Xstrata Plc. (XTA)
The deal is pending regulatory approval and is expected to be closed by year end, Ferrovial said. The transaction will help the Madrid-based company boost liquidity and gain “flexibility to undertake investments in infrastructure and services projects,” it said. Barclays Plc advised Qatar on the deal, a spokesman for the London-based bank said via e-mail.
“Even though Ferrovial wasn’t as highly leveraged as other construction companies such as ACS or Sacyr, the deal makes perfect sense as BAA is a very liquid asset and helps the Spanish firm boost its financial structure,” Francisco Salvador, a Madrid-based analyst at FGA/MG Valores, said by phone.
Ferrovial shares climbed 5.9 percent to 9.56 euros at the close of trading in Madrid, valuing the company at 7 billion euros ($8.62 billion).
The Canadian pensioners who own Britain
Third of Britain’s infrastructure has foreign owners
How Qatar bought Britain:
10.3.2012 (Daily Mail)
One section of their long article says:
(Qatar owns the Shard too)
To the east, Qatar owns swathes of the Canary Wharf financial district through its majority holding in Songbird Estates plc.
When Barclays was in trouble at the height of the banking turmoil, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) emerged as a white-knight investor, and became the biggest shareholder.
Over at Stratford stand the buildings of the Olympic Village – once the Games are finished this summer, QIA will take ownership.
Due west lie Harrods and, close by, No 1 Hyde Park, the world’s most expensive block of flats, also Qatari-owned.
A sovereign wealth fund with tens of billions of pounds in assets and a global reach, QIA has already invested £10 billion in Britain, with more planned. Its influence is everywhere.
If you walk into any Sainsbury’s across the UK, remember that Qatar is a major investor.
It owns 20 per cent of the London Stock Exchange and, at the other end of the scale, it owns 20 per cent of Camden market, the biggest grunge emporium in the country.
Qatar is smaller than Belgium yet seems to be laying claim to the future of our capital.
Its real influence, however, which could yet shape the lives of millions of ordinary Britons, is invisible and still growing.
Pension funds wary of UK infrastructure
7.2.2012 (Financial Times)
The UK government dreams of pension funds piling money into the country’s infrastructure but investors are slow to commit, lagging behind their counterparts in Canada, Australia and continental Europe.
Plans to attract approximately £20bn from institutional investors to invest in the building of roads, power plants and hospitals in the UK over the next decade have some way to go.