Qatar plans to pump 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) into Italy's economy in hopes the debt-stricken country will soon recover from recession. The move is part of the Gulf state's drive to invest some of its oil wealth.
Italy's strategic investment Fondo Strategico Italiano and state-owned Qatar Holding were planning to commit 1 billion euros each to the joint fund, Italy's government announced Monday.
The deal was signed during Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's visit to the oil-rich Gulf state.
The joint "IQ Made in Italy Venture" would boast an initial capital of 300 million euros, according to the statement, and rise in the coming years as the fund would be invested in sectors such as food, fashion and luxury goods, as well as in furniture, tourism and leisure industries.
"We have four or five ideas that we are studying at the moment," Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani told a new conference in Doha, adding that his government considers Italy a significant partner.
Sheikh Hammad also announced that his government was preparing to sign another agreement with Italy worth 1 billion euros and aimed at supporting small and medium-sized business. Funding would also be provided equally by both partners, he said.
The small yet wealthy Gulf state is seeking out opportunities to invest its huge and rising oil wealth, while debt-stricken eurozone countries are looking for international funding to finance their way out of a deep recession.
In addition, businesses in some eurozone countries are finding it difficult to raise capital as the financial crisis is squeezing bank balance sheets, cutting off lending.
In recent months, Qatar's sovereign wealth fund has invested in Italian luxury brands such as Tiffany and LVMH, while gaining full control of the Valentino fashion house.
uhe/msh (Reuters, AP)