Watch this space: QIA offers tantalizing glimpse

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A more transparent investment strategy could benefit Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

There is a tantalizing new link on the Qatar Investment Authority’s web site. At the bottom left of the home page, beneath a picture of a dhow in front of Doha’s soaring skyline, it says: “QIA Review. Coming Soon."

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When you click on it, nothing happens, but whispers are growing among the region’s asset management community that the QIA is about to do the unthinkable and actually disclose something. There has been chat about this for at least six months, with rumours of an annual review much like Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s (the latest, its sixth, came out in June), and the unclickable web link suggests that something is afoot.

No obligation

What will it say? Sources expect a clearly stated set of asset allocation targets – like ADIA has – and maybe, with it, a slightly more disciplined investment approach than its reputation today as an opportunistic dealmaker with a portfolio dramatically tilted towards trophy-level London real estate. It may disclose long-term performance (again, ADIA does this over a 20- and a 30-year horizon), though few expect it to disclose its assets under management. 

The QIA, like all its Gulf peers bar the Kuwait Investment Authority (which has to report to a parliament), is under no obligation to disclose anything to anybody, but the fund’s management may wish to move away from its image as a scattershot institution with no clear strategy and still less transparency. If such a move were to reflect a broader change of policy towards something more balanced and targeted, then the consequent shifting of assets – billions of dollars of them – could have an impact from European banking to Asian real estate.