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Qatari Funds Run The Rule Over £4B Selfridges

Selfridges on Oxford Street

Funds linked to the state of Qatar are reportedly in advanced talks to buy iconic department store Selfridges, in what would be one of the biggest global retail deals since the coronavirus pandemic started.

Qatari funds are the lead bidder to buy the company that owns Selfridges and two other European department stores for as much as £4B, the Mail of Sunday reported. It said the talks are not exclusive and another bidder could yet trump the Qatari investors.

Qatar’s state funds already own a pair of luxury department stores: the Qatar Investment Authority bought Harrods in 2010 and a vehicle called Divine Investments bought the Printemps store in Paris in 2013. 

Any deal would be a big bet on the future of flagship retail destinations that rely on tourists for a big chunk of their income. While chain department stores were faring badly even before the pandemic, in 2019 Selfridges made a £36M profit. 

The current owner of Selfridges, the Canadian Weston family, bought the company for £598M in 2003. Credit Suisse was appointed to find a buyer for the business this summer.

The sale includes the famous 580K SF department store on Oxford Street, a department store in Birmingham, two stores in Manchester and two department stores in Dublin, Brown Thomas and Arnotts. The Mail on Sunday reported that the current deal might focus only on the UK assets.

Selfridges’ operating business has been valued at £2B and its real estate at £2B, React News said when first reporting the sale.

Other potential bidders include the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, Hong Kong department store business Lane Crawford and Canada's Hudson's Bay Co., which owns Saks Fifth Avenue