Qatar Air interested in Olympic

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis confirmed yesterday that Qatar Airways is interested in buying Greece’s state air carrier Olympic Airlines (OA), as Qatar states it has no intention of scaling down investments due to the global financial crisis. Karamanlis, who met in Qatar’s capital, Doha, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, said the two countries are looking into broadening commercial ties in the areas of energy, transport, shipping and construction. Qatar Airways is among the companies interested in Olympic Airlines, Karamanlis told journalists without giving further details. Greece hopes to privatize OA by the end of the year, in a plan that involves the breakup of the troubled airline into three divisions – flights, ground handling and maintenance – to be later sold on to private investors. According to sources, Qatar Airways is eyeing the acquisition of the entire OA setup in order to expand further into the world airline market. Meanwhile, gas-rich Qatar said yesterday it has no intention of scaling down massive investments at home and abroad as a result of the global financial crisis. «We have no intention of halting infrastructure projects at home or reducing overseas investments,» said Sheikh Hamad. «All projects are ongoing and we are preparing a budget which will speak for itself.» Qatar is investing between $130 and $150 billion in the energy sector and in infrastructure projects. Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the tiny Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund chaired by the prime minister, manages assets estimated at up to $50 billion.

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