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Qatar Eyeing Stakes In Shell, Eni

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DOHA (Zawya Dow Jones) - Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, continuing its recent splurge on overseas assets, is eying stakes in Anglo-Dutch energy group Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italy's Eni SpA, the Middle East Economic Survey reports Friday.

A spokeswoman for Shell confirmed Qatar was a shareholder but didn't say when the Gulf state acquired the stake or how large it was.

"We are delighted to welcome the Qatar Investment Authority as a long-term and major shareholder in Shell, and particularly given our excellent strategic relationship with the Qatari state," the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Qatar is in "very advanced talks" to buy 3-5% of Shell, a major investor in Qatar, and is also negotiating taking a 3% stake in Italian oil giant Eni, MEES reports.

Qatar Holding declined to comment Friday.

Qatar has made a big push into natural resources in recent months, buying 3% of French oil major Total SA, and steadily acquiring shares in miner Xstrata PLC, making it the second largest shareholder in the London-listed firm that is merging with commodities trader Glencore International PLC. On May 10 Qatar increased its stake in Xstrata to 8.3%.

In rare comments last month, a senior official from Qatar's sovereign wealth fund was upbeat on the commodities sector, predicting a supply-demand gap would emerge in 2016 or 2017, pushing prices higher.

Qatar is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas and is using its vast hydrocarbon wealth to buy assets all over the world, including London luxury department store Harrods and stakes in Credit Suisse and Barclays.

At 1157 GMT, Shell's A shares were trading slightly higher in London, up 0.3% on the day at 2,056 pence. In Milan, Eni's shares were trading up 1.3% at EUR16.80.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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