Qatar iron man faces off with Glencore on Xstrata deal – by Mirna Sleiman ( – June 29, 2012)

Bankers who have dealt with Ahmad al-Sayed, the Qatari investment manager holding the fate of Glencore’s takeover of Xstrata, all agree he is a tough negotiator, someone who will cut the deal at the terms he wants.

DUBAI (Reuters)  –  Ahmad al-Sayed, the Qatari investment manager holding the fate of Glencore’s $26 billion takeover of Xstrata in his hands, is known as an aggressive negotiator who relishes the big deal.
The lawyer was formerly general counsel at Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the gas-rich Gulf state, before taking the helm as chief executive of Qatar Holding in 2008.
Well-liked and trusted by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the Qatari prime minister who is also chief executive of QIA and chairman of Qatar Holding, he has significant influence at the top level where decisions are made.
“An iron man, and a hedge fund manager in disguise, he can easily kill a deal if it doesn’t suit him,” said one banker who knows him personally.
“And why not? Don’t the Qataris have the money? There could be a compromise but it’s ultimately their way or no way.”
“We respect him for his smartness but we dreadfully fear him for his aggressiveness. One day you’re closing a deal and the next you’re flushed away.”
Commodities trader Glencore is fighting to save its deal after Qatar Holding, QIA’s investment arm which has built a stake of around 11 percent in Xstrata since February, issued a late demand for better terms, forcing them to push back the timing of the deal.
Sayed, who is in his late thirties and studied law and business in Qatar, Paris and Boston, is leading talks with Glencore about the deal.
“I’m enjoying watching the soap opera from a distance,” said British deal broker Amanda Staveley, who helped orchestrate Abu Dhabi’s 2008 investment in Barclays and knows Sayed, describing him as bright, utterly professional and very diligent.
“Qatar has been using decent strategies lately and I kind of assume he’s the man behind it.”
Qatar’s unexpected intervention – an unusually aggressive step for a fund that has hitherto been content with a less muscular role in its portfolio – has set off a new round of negotiations, putting in doubt a deal that would create the world’s fourth-biggest mining company.
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