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Qatar government mulls buying a stake in Glencore

Qatar, the gas-rich emirate that boasts holdings in Barclays and the Sainsbury's supermarket chain, is looking into buying a stake in Glencore, the Swiss commodities trader currently briefing City analysts ahead of a possible stock market listing later this year.

The country's Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, said the Gulf state was "studying the matter", adding: "I believe we will have a meeting here in Doha in the next two days."

Sheikh Hamad's comments came as senior Glencore managers, including chief executive Ivan Glasenberg, met with analysts in London ahead of a possible float that could value the business at as much as $60bn, according to some estimates.

Although the group is yet to make up its mind about a listing, an announcement may be forthcoming as early as next month, when Glencore, which is believed to have around 500 shareholders, issues its annual results. Known for its secrecy, the group owns around 35 per cent of Xstrata, the FTSE 100-listed miner.