News24

Harrods store sold to Qatar

2010-05-08 17:02

Dubai - Qatar's acquisition of London's luxury department store Harrods in a deal reportedly worth £1.5bn adds to the gas-rich Gulf state's diversified assets abroad.

Egyptian billionaire Mohamed al-Fayed has sold Harrods to Qatar Holding, one of Qatar's investment arms, Fayed's advisors Lazard announced on Saturday.

Qatar Holding LLC is the main investment arm of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) which is charged with investing and managing the oil and gas-generated wealth of Qatar and diversifying its finances.

QIA chief executive officer Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, a royal, is also the Arab emirate's premier and foreign minister.

In March, Sheikh Hamad said that the sovereign wealth fund invested $30bn in 2009 and was looking to invest a similar amount this year.

$65bn fortune

The wealth of QIA, which was established in 2005, is estimated at $65bn, according to the SWF Institute.

The Qatar Holding division now controls a 17% stake in German carmaker Volkswagen, as well as a 7% share in the British bank Barclays.

Along with Abu Dhabi, Qatar largely backed a £7bn capital injection in Barclays in 2008 as the bank sought to survive the credit crunch without government aid.

But Abu Dhabi has since sold most of its holding, while Qatar Holding remains the largest shareholder.

Qatar Holding also controls a 14.7% share in the Canary Wharf development in east London's Docklands, which houses the offices of major banks and media groups.

Holds share in LSE

It also holds a 15% share in the London Stock Exchange.

Through its Delta Two investment-vehicle, QIA also holds a 25% stake in British supermarket chain Sainsbury's.

In July 2007, Delta Two launched a bid for Sainsbury's that valued the supermarket group at £10.6bn.

But it abandoned the bid four months later, citing poor global credit markets and a wrangle over pensions.

Qatar also owns the building which the houses the US embassy in London.