Spain, Qatar eye $1bn Latam investment fund in 2017

Updated 27 November 2016
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Spain, Qatar eye $1bn Latam investment fund in 2017

DUBAI: Spain and Qatar hope to sign early next year an agreement to form a $1 billion joint investment fund that would help the Gulf state invest in Latin America, the Spanish ambassador was quoted by Qatari media as saying on Sunday.
Negotiations on the agreement have been stalled for almost a year by political uncertainty in Spain, but could resume once a new minister of trade has been appointed, Ignacio Escobar said, according to the media interview.
Mariano Rajoy was sworn in for a second term as Spain’s prime minister on Oct. 31, giving the country a fully functioning government for the first time in 10 months after two inconclusive elections and fruitless coalition talks.
Officials hope, Escobar said, that the investment deal can be signed during a high-level visit to Qatar by Spanish officials in the “first semester of 2017.”
“This is very interesting for Qatar because the QIA (Qatar Investment Authority) has said many times that they want to invest in Latin America,” Escobar said, in reference to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.
“It is a new market for them and it is full of opportunities, and Spain is the perfect gateway for Latin America.”
The QIA has in recent years been seeking to diversify its portfolio away from European assets, announcing in 2014 it would put $20 billion into Asia. In September 2015, the QIA said it would be involved in Qatari plans to invest $35 billion in the US.
Hassad Food, the agricultural arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, said in February 2015 it was looking at possible purchases of Brazilian sugar and poultry assets, although its website does not list any investments on the continent.


Amazon strengthens ties with French food retailer Casino

Updated 23 April 2019
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Amazon strengthens ties with French food retailer Casino

  • The move could re-ignite speculation of a bigger deal later on
  • The extended partnership comes as Casino is selling assets and cutting debt to try to allay investor concerns

PARIS: E-commerce giant Amazon and French retailer Casino are expanding their partnership, with Amazon installing pick-up lockers in Casino stores and more of the French company’s products to be available on Amazon.
The move, which follows an initial co-operation between Casino’s upmarket Monoprix supermarket chain and Amazon in Paris, could re-ignite speculation of a bigger deal later on.
An Amazon spokeswoman said it had a policy of not commenting on market speculation. Amazon’s purchase of bricks-and-mortar US food retailer Whole Foods Market last year has raised speculation it could seek to buy a European food retailer.
The extended partnership comes as Casino is selling assets and cutting debt to try to allay investor concerns over its finances and those of parent company Rallye.
The deal, unveiled on Tuesday, will see Amazon lockers installed in 1,000 locations across France in nine of Casino’s brands, including Monoprix, Monop, Geant, Hyper Casino, Casino Supermarche, Leaderprice, Viva and Spar by the end of the year. The lockers store Amazon products to be picked up by customers.
More Casino-branded products will also be available on Amazon, while Amazon and Monoprix will extend their partnership on Amazon’s Prime Now grocery delivery service outside Paris and into new cities in the next twelve months.
“This announcement represents a new step in strengthening Casino’s omnichannel strategy to always be a little more in the heart of consumers’ lives,” said Casino’s chief executive Jean-Charles Naouri in a statement.
Monoprix, seen by analysts as similar to Whole Foods, started filling orders for subscribers to Amazon’s Prime loyalty program in parts of Paris last September.
This partnership has been closely watched as Monoprix was the first French retailer to agree in March 2018 to sell products via Amazon, causing a stir in the fiercely competitive domestic market.
France is Amazon’s third largest market in Europe, after Britain and Germany. Amazon is the e-commerce leader in France with a market share of 17.3 percent, but its grocery market share stands at just 2 percent, according to Kantar data.
The US group, which has run its Amazon Prime express delivery service in Paris since 2016, has made no secret of its desire to launch a grocery delivery service in France as part of its ambitions to expand in food retail.
But the French supermarket sector has powerful incumbents such as Carrefour and Leclerc, operating at low margins and with a dense network of stores.
Earlier this week, Casino said it would sell 12 Casino hypermarkets and 20 supermarkets to Apollo Global Management in a deal worth up to €470 million ($529 million).