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Qatar said to consider joining US$100b SoftBank tech fund

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 13:21

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Qatar is considering investing in the US$100 billion global technology fund formed by SoftBank Group Corp and Saudi Arabia, according to people familiar with the matter.

[LONDON] Qatar is considering investing in the US$100 billion global technology fund formed by SoftBank Group Corp and Saudi Arabia, according to people familiar with the matter.

SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son has visited Doha and other parts of the Gulf region in recent months to discuss investments with global investors, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

The Qatar Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund is considering an investment of billions of dollars, which will help diversify its economy away from oil, the people said.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and SoftBank are looking for additional commitments of about US$30 billion, the people said. No final agreements have been reached and talks may still falter, they said. Goldman Sachs Group Inc is working as an adviser on the structure of the new fund, one of the people said.

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Representatives for QIA, SoftBank and Goldman Sachs declined to comment. A spokesman for the Public Investment Fund didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment outside of regular business hours.

SoftBank signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia this month to create the fund, tentatively named the SoftBank Vision Fund, to raise money to back technology companies globally.

The Tokyo-based company agreed to invest at least US$25 billion, and the Saudis may put in up to US$45 billion over the next five years with other large investors making up the rest.

Gulf Arab countries are looking for new sources of income as a plunge in oil prices puts pressure on economic growth and increases budget deficits.

Saudi Arabia is planning to list the Saudi Arabian Oil Co, which may raise US$100 billion and will be held by its sovereign wealth fund, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in April.

The Public Investment Fund made a US$3.5 billion investment in ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc in June.

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