Exclusive: Qatar targets $10 billion investment in US ports

Panoramic view of the container terminal at the port of Doha
FILE PHOTO: General view of the container terminal at the port of Doha October 20, 2012. REUTERS / Fadi Al-Assaad

December 21, 2021

By Jonathan Saul, Marwa Rashad and Davide Barbuscia

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) – Qatar plans to invest at least $10 billion in US ports and has approached international banks for financial support, three finance sources said, in a meeting. infrastructure push that reflects the Gulf state’s deepening relationship with Washington.

Middle Eastern and Western sources familiar with the matter say Doha is targeting investments in ports around the US East Coast, which are expected to be developed in phases, adding that the plan new plan in the preliminary stage.

The Qatar Investment Authority and the Qatar Government Communications Office both declined to comment.

Michael Frodl, an adviser in the US on projects including maritime security, commerce and infrastructure, who is familiar with Qatar’s strategy, said: “The Qataris have been preparing for almost a year for the test. these waters with US port investments.

“We think a smart $10 billion investor the Qataris want to put in US port infrastructure would probably look at the East Coast first and foremost. The West Coast is getting all the attention of the US government and private investment, while the East Coast is long overdue for improvement.”

Frodl said ports with easy access to highways and rail will be prioritized.

“We will be looking at the old medium-sized ports south of Boston and north of Jacksonville,” he added.

A source based in the Middle East said the investments would be debt-backed, related to port assets, adding that Qatar was in early discussions with banks to seek a fundamental advisor. structure.

Banks approached include Morgan Stanley, HSBC and Credit Suisse, two of the sources said.

Morgan Stanley, HSBC and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

In November, Congress passed US President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, which port and industry sources said includes $5.22 billion in assets. federal funding for specific port programs, shorting the estimated tens of billions of dollars needed to invest in rickety infrastructure.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an online news conference with the Port of Los Angeles on November 16 that while Washington is providing “historic levels of funding” to improve ports, “all not from federal grants.”

“We will have to continue to work with local, public and private partners to ensure that we have the kind of resources we need,” Buttigieg said.

According to the US Coast Guard, there are about 360 ports in the United States.

The Middle East-based source said Qatar could target three port projects.

A fourth financial source separately confirmed Qatar’s investment plans in the United States.

Qatar currently has minimal holdings in foreign ports. However, last year, the state’s commercial port operator, QTerminals, purchased the Turkish port of Akdeniz and signed an agreement to develop the Olvia port on the Black Sea in Ukraine.


Relations between the United States and Qatar deepened after the small, wealthy Gulf monarchy established close ties with the Taliban, which played a key role in negotiations that led to an agreement. 2020 on the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan this year.

Washington and Doha signed an agreement in November for Qatar to represent US diplomatic interests in Afghanistan.

“Qatar’s interest in U.S. infrastructure investment dates back to at least 2016,” said Frodl.

“Things would have been better without the previous Trump administration, which was closely aligned with Saudi Arabia.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Saul and Marwa Rashad in London, Davide Barbuscia, Yousef Saba and Saeed Azhar in Dubai and Andrew Mills in Doha, editing by Rachel Armstrong and Susan Fenton) Exclusive: Qatar targets $10 billion investment in US ports

Bobby Allyn

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