- Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), tapped former J.P. Morgan executive Niall Byrne to serve as chief financial officer, with Byrne joining the fund in November, according to a Tuesday press release.
- Byrne’s appointment comes as Qatar hosts the five-week FIFA World Cup 2022, which has been marked by controversy as well as high spending by the gas-rich nation, whose wealth and economy have fallen under an international spotlight as the event unfolds.
- Despite rumblings of a recession in several markets as well as the country’s World Cup spending spree, Qatar’s economy will likely continue to reap the benefits of high energy prices, with its economy projected to grow 3.4% by the end of 2022 according to the International Money Fund.
An industry veteran with 30 years of experience, Byrne served as CFO and COO, global fixed income, currency and commodities for J.P Morgan Asset Management for five years from 2017 until November, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He has also held chief auditor positions for J.P. Morgan Chase and served as the Chairperson of the audit committee for The Clearing House from 2009 until 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“I am very excited to be joining such a successful and well-respected organization as QIA,” Byrne said in a statement included in the Tuesday release. “Having the opportunity to join their leadership team is a career highlight for me, and I am confident that I can leverage my years of experience in the industry to contribute to the continued success of the organization in achieving its objectives. I look forward to becoming part of the QIA family.”
QIA manages the financial resources of Qatar, managing about $461 billion in assets, making it the ninth largest sovereign wealth fund in the world according to rankings from the SWF Institute.
The country conducted a spending spree before the start of the current World Cup event, having spent about $300 billion in preparations to host the international soccer tournament since being awarded the bid in 2010, according to a Nov. 18 report by Bloomberg, including the construction of eight stadiums.
Among its foreign investments, the country’s sovereign wealth fund owns 5% of Swiss bank Credit Suisse stock, with plans to increase its stake, according to a Nov. 2 report by the Financial Times. Qatar is also reviewing its “current and future” investments in London, England after the city’s transport authority banned Qatar state advertisements on public transportation, according to a Nov. 25 report by the Financial Times. Among other investments in the city, QIA holds a 20% stake in Heathrow Airport and is co-owner of Canary Wharf.
QIA also invested $375 million towards Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of social media site Twitter, according to a May 4 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, giving it a small stake in the now-private platform. The investment has led to questions regarding national security by U.S. lawmakers.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), sent a letter to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States requesting an immediate investigation into potential national security concerns that could arise from Musk’s Twitter purchase on Oct.31, pointing to investments by Qatar as well as members of the Saudi Arabian royal family.
President Joseph Biden said that Musk’s “cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at” in response to questions about whether the U.S. should investigate his acquisition of Twitter due to the presence of foreign investors during a Nov. 9 press conference.
QIA did not respond to requests for comment.