UPDATE 1-Qatar fund to buy hotels in Sardinia -source

Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:59am EDT

(Adds details, background)

By Regan Doherty

DOHA, April 16 (Reuters) - Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the gas-rich Gulf nation's sovereign wealth fund, is set to unveil a deal in the property and leisure sector in the Italian island of Sardinia including a clutch of luxury hotels, a source close to the matter said.

"It will be a big deal, and the Qatari emir will be in Italy for the signing," he said.

The deal, for properties on the Costa Smeralda, or emerald coast, is likely to be announced on Tuesday, the source said speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is not public.

Costa Smeralda is a tourist destination in northern Sardinia, which includes several luxury hotels and a golf club.

Qatar Holding, part of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), was not immediately reachable for comment.

The deal will be the latest in a string of European property acquisitions by the tiny Gulf Arab state. The sovereign fund's other high-profile investments include the upmarket Harrods department store in London and the recent buy of Credit Suisse headquarters in Canary Wharf.

Gulf-government backed funds have been on a buying spree in Europe and are eyeing investments in real estate, infrastructure and other sectors.

Qatar, through its $100 billion sovereign fund, also owns stakes in luxury goods house LVMH and oil company Total.

It also owns shares in Credit Suisse and has recently been building up ownership in London-listed miner Xstrata ahead of the company's possible merger with commodities giant Glencore. (Writing by Dinesh Nair; Editing by Sitaraman Shankar)


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