Qatar said to eye UK’s Marks & Spencer in $12bn deal

Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund could buy prestigious UK retailer, newspaper claims

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is eyeing UK retail chain Marks & Spencer in a GBP £8bn (US$12bn) deal, according to London’s The Sun newspaper.

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) purchased London luxury store Harrods for GBP£1.5bn in 2010 and already owns a string of other assets in the UK, including a 26 percent stake in supermarket Sainsbury’s.

Marks & Spencer has about 1,000 locations worldwide, including in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and employs about 80,000 people. In its latest set of financial results, the company reported a 9.7 percent decline in profit to the six months up to the end of September 2012 to GBP£290m, while group sales increase 0.9 percent to GBP £4.7bn.

The Sun did not specify its source on the reported takeover bid, but shares in the retail rose on Thursday and Friday amid speculation of a buy-out. Marks & Spencer, which was founded in 1884, is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index.

Neither QIA nor Marks & Spencer had responded to Arabian Business’s request for comment on the matter at the time of publication.

QIA’s other assets include an 8.7 percent stake in US jeweller Tiffany & Co, as well as a 3 percent stake in oil company Total, while it has also invested in British bank Barclays. The sovereign wealth fund also owns 17 percent of Volkswagen and 10 percent in Porsche.

The fund is believed to have assets in excess of more than US$100bn, positioning itself as the 12th world largest sovereign wealth fund by asset under management, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

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Posted by: Qatari

It might not be the biggest sovereign wealth fund, but in my opinion it is the most strategic and diverse.

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