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Qatar still seeking investments in Spain's banks

Source: Reuters - Wed 27th Apr 2011

Qatar is still studying investments in Spain's savings banks but has not yet found the right opportunity for investment, said the chief executive of Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the emirate's sovereign wealth fund.

"In principle we are interested in doing something with the cajas (Spain's regional savings banks). We are studying the right opportunities," Ahmed Mohammed Alsayed told reporters on Tuesday at a meeting coinciding with the official visit of the emir of Qatar.

"If, if, if there is a good opportunity for us, we will do it," he added.

The Spanish government is trying to attract private capital for its unlisted cajas to plug a funding gap that the government has estimated at 20 billion euros, caused by overly zealous lending during a property boom that turned to bust.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani said in February the emirate will invest 300 million euros in the cajas and suggested that more investments could be on the way.

Credit rating agency Moody's raised its estimate for the funding shortfall at the cajas to 50 billion euros from an earlier estimate of 17 billion euros in March, and said losses would be mostly concentrated in the cajas.

Many of Spain's cajas, which have are heavily influenced by the local governments of the regions where they are based, are considered to be a threat to the stability of the country's financial system.

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