The Qatar sovereign wealth fund, which owns Harrods and the Printemps store in Paris, is reportedly looking to snap up another iconic department store, Selfridges.
The Qatar Investment Authority has emerged as the front-runner to purchase the company from its billionaire owners, The Mail on Sunday reports, citing sources with knowledge of the negotiations.
It is understood that the discussions have included the possibility of buying only the Selfridges department stores, and not its other businesses, including Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland, Holt Renfrew in Canada, and de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.
But the talks are reportedly not exclusive, with the possibility remaining that a rival bidder might snap up the company.
Selfridges owners eye 4 billion pound price tag
It follows reports in July that Selfridges' owners kicked off a formal auction for the company, calling in advisers from investment bank Credit Suisse to “imminently” send out information memoranda to prospective buyers.
The Weston family were reportedly seeking at least 4 billion pounds for the sale, and hoped a deal could be struck by the end of the year.
Selfridges was founded in 1908 by Harry Gordon Selfridge and was purchased in 2003 by the Weston family in a 598 million pound deal.
The reins of the Selfridges group were handed over from the late WG Galen Weston to his daughter Alannah two years ago.
Like many physical retailers, Selfridges was hit hard by the pandemic. In July last year, the company announced it would be cutting its workforce by 14 percent - or around 450 roles - to cut costs.