Qatar fund in talks to invest $200m in Indian property

Updated 23 December 2013

Qatar fund in talks to invest $200m in Indian property

MUMBAI: Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the gas-rich Gulf emirate, is in talks to invest $200 million in residential property in India, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
QIA is holding “conversations” with Kotak Realty Fund, run by Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., which would manage the investments on behalf of the fund, said the source, who asked not to be named because the deal has not been finalized.
Kotak would also make a small investment and plans to focus on residential property developments in major cities across Asia’s third-largest economy for QIA, the source said.
Kotak declined to comment. QIA did not respond to emails or telephone calls.
Sovereign wealth funds and other long-term investors are eyeing opportunities in India’s real estate sector, betting that property prices are bottoming out after slumping this year on the back of the slowest economic growth in a decade.
House sales in major Indian cities, including Mumbai and Delhi, fell 22 percent in the quarter ended Sept. 30.

House prices grew by 9 percent over the same period compared with double digit increases in the year-ago quarter, according to property data firm Liases Foras.
Vikram Gandhi, founder of Delhi-based VSG Capital Advisers, which has been retained by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) to seek investment opportunities in the country, said the timing to invest in Indian property was ideal.
“If you have a long-term perspective and you believe that the need for capital in a country is quite high, which it is, and the supply is limited right now because people are not investing, then this is the best time to invest,” he said.
In November, CPPIB said it would invest $200 million dollars to buy leased, income-producing office buildings in a joint venture with Indian construction company, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, which will invest $50 million.
QIA’s investment comes after the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in July also appointed Kotak to invest $200 million in Indian real estate on its behalf, sources told Reuters at the time.
Also in July, Singapore’s GIC Pte Ltd., Temasek Holdings and Oman’s State General Reserve Fund committed to investing a combined $200 million in a real estate fund run by Indian mortgage lender HDFC Ltd.
The investments are a shot in the arm for India’s property developers, many of whom are burdened with debt that is expensive to service at steep interest rates.
Banks are also reluctant to lend because of fears of defaults, while private equity funds, which poured in billions of dollars at the height of the property market in 2007, have turned cautious after project delays impacted returns and exits.


US trade offensive takes out WTO as global arbiter

Updated 10 December 2019

US trade offensive takes out WTO as global arbiter

  • Two years after starting to block appointments, the US will finally paralyze the WTO’s Appellate Body
  • Two of three members of Appellate Body exit and leave it unable to issue rulings

BRUSSELS: US disruption of the global economic order reaches a major milestone on Tuesday as the World Trade Organization (WTO) loses its ability to intervene in trade wars, threatening the future of the Geneva-based body.
Two years after starting to block appointments, the United States will finally paralyze the WTO’s Appellate Body, which acts as the supreme court for international trade, as two of three members exit and leave it unable to issue rulings.
Major trade disputes, including the US conflict with China and metal tariffs imposed by US President Donald Trump, will not be resolved by the global trade arbiter.
Stephen Vaughn, who served as general counsel to the US Trade Representative during Trump’s first two years, said many disputes would be settled in future by negotiations.
Critics say this means a return to a post-war period of inconsistent settlements, problems the WTO’s creation in 1995 was designed to fix.
The EU ambassador to the WTO told counterparts in Geneva on Monday the Appellate Body’s paralysis risked creating a system of economic relations based on power rather than rules.
The crippling of dispute settlement comes as the WTO also struggles in its other major role of opening markets.
The WTO club of 164 has not produced any international accord since abandoning “Doha Round” negotiations in 2015.
Trade-restrictive measures among the G20 group of largest economies are at historic highs, compounded by Trump’s “America First” agenda and the trade war with China.
Phil Hogan, the European Union’s new trade commissioner, said on Friday the WTO was no longer fit for purpose and in dire need of reforms going beyond just fixing the appeals mechanism.
For developed countries, in particular, the WTO’s rules must change to take account of state-controlled enterprises.
In 2017, Japan brought together the United States and the European Union in a joint bid to set new global rules on state subsidies and forced technology transfers.
The US is also pushing to limit the ability of WTO members to grant themselves developing status, which for example gives them longer to implement WTO agreements.
Such “developing countries” include Singapore and Israel, but China is the clear focus.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Reuters last week the United States wanted to end concessions given to then struggling economies that were no longer appropriate.
“We’ve been spoiling countries for a very, very long time, so naturally they’re pushing back as we try to change things,” he said.
The trouble with WTO reform is that changes require consensus to pass. That includes Chinese backing.
Beijing has published its own reform proposals with a string of grievances against US actions. Reform should resolve crucial issues threatening the WTO’s existence, while preserving the interests of developing countries.
Many observers believe the WTO faces a pivotal moment in mid-2020 when its trade ministers gather in a drive to push through a multinational deal — on cutting fishing subsidies.
“It’s not the WTO that will save the fish. It’s the fish that are going to save the WTO,” said one ambassador.