UPDATE 1-Qatar builds up Xstrata stake ahead of Glencore deal
* Fund QIA now holds 5 pct in Xstrata, data shows
* QIA has been raising stake since Glencore merger announcement
* QIA stake valued at around $2.65 bln
By Dinesh Nair
DUBAI, April 9 (Reuters) - Qatar's sovereign wealth fund has increased its stake in Xstrata to just over 5 percent, potentially making it easier for commodities trader Glencore to buy the Anglo-Swiss miner.
The tiny Gulf Arab state, a keen commodities investor, is now Xstrata's third-largest shareholder behind Glencore and asset manager BlackRock Inc N>, giving it exposure to a metals powerhouse after missing out on other recent deals.
Qatar has also bought stakes in luxury goods house LVMH and oil company Total, in a recent spending spree using its natural gas riches to diversify economic risk. It also owns shares in Credit Suisse and the upmarket Harrods department store.
Several major shareholders have opposed Glencore's $41 billion bid for Xstrata but bankers said Qatar would be a passive investor, unlikely to stand in the way. The deal must be backed by 75 percent of shareholders excluding Glencore.
"Getting the Qataris on board will be good for Glencore. They are not activist investors and won't be looking at gaining management influence. But they are opportunistic and won't commit a pound unless they are seeing clear benefits," said a Dubai-based banker. Continued...