INTERVIEW-Qatari property firm Barwa eyeing London

DUBAI, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Qatar's Barwa Real Estate

is looking to invest in the London property market before the

end of the year, the company's deputy group chief executive said

on Tuesday.

"We're looking for a few investments in Europe, mainly

London. We're interested in hotels, business towers and hope to

finalise an investment before year end," Ahmad Abdulla al-

Abdulla told Reuters on the sidelines of the Cityscape real

estate conference in Dubai. He did not give details on potential

targets or how much the company is willing to invest in Europe.

The oil rich state's sovereign wealth fund has spent 5.7

billion euros ($7.36 billion) on real estate since 2007, almost

80 percent of it in London and Paris, August data from research

firm Real Capital Analytics showed.

Barwa, the Gulf Arab state's largest listed property

developer, has investments in the U.K., France, Switzerland and

Turkey, and owns a building in London's upmarket Mayfair

Conservation Area.

Barwa's main focus is on developing projects in the local

Qatari real estate market ahead of the soccer World Cup in 2022.

"The company's international business makes up between 10-20

percent of our overall portfolio. We're focusing on Qatar but

also looking at buying property in the U.K.," he said, noting

that asset valuations in London have become attractive.

Investors from Qatar have embarked on a shopping spree in

London over the past few years b uying a stake in Songbird

Estates, owner of London's second financial district

Canary Wharf, luxury department store Harrods and the European

Union's tallest skyscraper, the S hard.

Barwa may tap banks to part-finance a major project in Doha

as early as next year, the company's deputy group chief

executive said on Tuesday.

"The project will be financed through 30-40 percent equity

and 20 percent bank lending with the rest from pre-sales," Al

Abdulla said, adding that the project is a 50/50 partnership

with Bahraini investment firm Arcapita.

"We don't plan a bond issue anytime soon but hope to talk to

banks for the financing of the project next year, that's if

needed."

Located within the planned coastal Lusail City north of the

capital Doha, the project will include 4,000 residential units

and a golf course, and is expected to be ready by 2018.

Barwa is 45-percent-owned by Qatari Diar, the property arm

of the country's acquisitive sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar

Investment Authority.

It posted a 21.1 percent drop in its net profit for the

first half of 2012 at 593.6 million riyals, versus 752.5 million

riyals in the same period of 2011.

The company focuses on retail, office, hospitality and

residential developments.

($1 = 3.6411 Qatar rials)

($1 = 0.7749 euros)

(Additional reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Dinesh Nair and

Elaine Hardcastle)

(mirna.sleiman@thomsonreuters.com; +971 4 391 8301; Reuters

Messaging: mirna.sleiman@thomsonreuters.com)

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