Qatar fund builds small stakes in BofA, Samsung-sources


* Qatar Holding has BofA stake worth $1 billion - sources

* Fund has stake in Samsung worth $200-$300 mln

* Qatar fund picking minority stakes in large global firms

* Samsung says investment reflects Qatar support formanagement

By Dinesh Nair and Miyoung Kim

DUBAI/SEOUL, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Qatar Holding has builtsmall stakes in Bank of America and Samsung Electronics, two sources familiar with the matter said, as thewealth fund continues on its strategy of picking minority stakesin large global companies.

The fund, one of the world's most prolific investors, has astake worth about $1 billion in Bank of America, while itsSamsung stake is worth between $200-$300 million, the sourcessaid, speaking on condition of anonymity as the investments havenot been publicly disclosed.

BofA declined to comment and QIA could not be reached forcomment outside working hours.

A Samsung spokeswoman in Seoul said the company is aware ofQatar Holding's recent purchase of its shares which is saidreflects the fund's support for its management.

It did not comment on the value of the purchases.

In recent months, Qatar has picked up minority stakes incompanies such as oil giant Royal Dutch Shell,jewellery maker Tiffany & Co and Germany's Siemens.

Buying smaller stakes means investors do not have alwayshave to disclose ownership.

Qatar's strategy took an activist turn in 2012 when itdemanded better terms from Glencore for its plannedacquisition of London miner Xstrata, in which it had built up astake of more than 12 percent, forcing Glencore to eventuallyraise the share swap offer.

"Qatar has taken a view that equities are cheap as an assetclass and it can commit a billion dollars or two in a largecompany and do away with any disclosure requirements," onesource familiar with the fund's plans said.

"These are mostly financial investments and very unlikely tolead into a strategic transaction for the fund. Like anyinvestor, they would seek to buy it cheap and sell it high."

Qatar Holding, the investment arm of Qatar InvestmentAuthority (QIA), began buying BofA shares about two years ago,the Financial Times first reported on its website,

BofA's stock closed at $14.17, up 2 cents, on the New YorkStock Exchange. A $1 billion stake at this price represents lessthan 1 percent of BofA, which has a market capitalisation ofabout $151.2 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

It was not clear when the fund accumulated the Samsungstake. The smartphone leader has a market value of around $230.1billion which makes the ownership considerably less than 1percent of the company.

Under newly appointed Chief Executive Ahmed Al-Sayed, QIAhas been on an aggressive expansion spree, hiring bankers andsenior executives with experience ranging from mergers andacquisitions in Asia to retail and luxury investments in Europe.

The fund hired Michael Cho, a former co-head of Asia mergersand acquisitions at BofA, to run its mergers and acquisitionsdivision.

Three sources told Reuters in September that Qatar Holdinghad hired Ugo Arzani, most recently a BofA managing director inLondon, as its new head of consumer and retail investments.

The sources said QIA, worth more than $100 billion, wasscouting for opportunities in Asia and the United States in abid to reduce its exposure to Europe and diversify itsinvestment portfolio.

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