Qatar’s objective of building a regional asset management hub has taken firm steps following the partnership with Barclays Natural Resource Investment (BNRI), Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA) acting CEO Shashank Srivastava said. “Under the partnership with BNRI, QAMC (Qatar Asset Management Company) will co-invest $250mn in BNRI’s current and future portfolio companies and a substantial proportion will be allocated to BNRI’s existing $2.1bn portfolio,” Srivastava told Qatar News Agency (QNA) in an interview. “Our agreement with BNRI is a major step forward in the development of the QFC as an asset management centre.” BNRI is a global private equity business and a subsidiary of leading British bank Barclays. “We had announced the deal in April. It is a strategic partnership between QAMC, itself a collaboration between the QFC Authority and the Qatar Investment Authority, and BNRI,” Srivastava said. “We regard this as a milestone achievement for the QFC Authority. It testifies to Doha’s development as a financial centre and our strategy of looking to attract not just local and regional firms but global players in the asset management industry,” he added. The QFC is a legal, tax and regulatory set-up working in line with the Qatar national vision 2030 to diversify the economy, Srivastava said. The QFC offers local and foreign firms one of the most business-friendly tax environments in the world, a legal system based on English common law, efficient administration and one of the region’s most robust regulatory regimes. The centre recently decided to put more emphasis on a hub strategy and now provides a unique and sustainable platform for regional growth in financial services, particularly in reinsurance, captive insurance and asset management. The QFC Authority (QFCA), the commercial arm of the QFC, has worked closely with the QFC Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) and other Qatari industry and regulatory bodies to ensure that the legal and regulatory environment continuously evolves to stay competitive. The number of licences issued by the QFC reaffirms its progress towards building a favourable environment in which financial and financial-related businesses are thriving, Srivastava said. “We have already attracted many leading international and local firms, and, to date, 159 licences have been issued.” The licensees include AXA Investment Managers, Credit Suisse, Barclays Capital/Barclays Natural Resource Investments, The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Deutsche Bank, Kane, Marsh, AON, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered and UBS. Also, many local and regional firms such as QNB Capital, Qatar First Investment Bank, Concordia Capital, Amwal and Matrix ME Alignment Fund have been licensed by the QFC. Some of the licensed companies are raising domestic and international investment, he said. Although foreign investment gets the publicity - for example, Harrods, Volkswagen, the recent stake in Shell - there is also a firm commitment to domestic investment. “An important point is the boost infrastructure spending gives to the private sector,” Srivastava said. “The sheer scale of Qatar’s public and private infrastructure and industrial investment is creating huge opportunities for the private sector.” Major projects include the rail and metro system, the new airport and the causeway connecting Qatar and Bahrain. “We are very fortunate that Qatar has one of the world’s most dynamic and rapidly growing economies,” he said. Global Investor magazine has ranked the QFC the “Best Financial Centre in the Middle East,” and the global competitiveness report (2011-12) of the World Economic Forum, ranked Qatar as the most competitive country in the Mena region. “I believe our strategy is paying off,” Srivastava said.