House of Fraser could be acquired by the Qataris in a £300m deal that would reunite the department store group with Harrods.
The Qataris have been eying an acquisition of the 63-store retailer for several weeks, according to the Daily Mail, and talks have already been held with some of House of Fraser’s shareholders.
The Qataris bought Harrods in 2012, and in March there were reports that they were considering an £8bn takeover of Marks & Spencer. They already own a 26% stake in Sainsbury’s.
There has been much speculation over a potential sale of House of Fraser. It had been rumoured that Mike Ashley had been eying the department store chain but any interest he had seems to have faded.
Any deal with the Qataris will be complicated by House of Fraser’s wide shareholder base and a large amount of debt.
Shareholders include Icelandic bank Landsbanki, House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy, and TBH Trading, the investment vehicle of entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter. Kevin Stanford, co-founder of Karen Millen and All Saints, and two divisions of Lloyds – Uberior Investments and Bank of Scotland – also hold stakes.
House of Fraser bought Harrods in 1959, but the two were split when the Al Fayed family acquired the store in Knightsbridge, central London, for £615m in 1985.