Harrods department store sold to Qatari firm
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Harrods Ltd., owner of the London luxury department store, has been sold to Qatar Holding by Mohamed Al-Fayed for $2.2 billion, said two people familiar with the transaction.
Mr. Fayed, 77, will retire. He will become honorary chairman of Harrods, Qatar Holding Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Al Sayed said in an e-mailed statement Saturday.
Harrods, whose landmark store in Knightsbridge opened in 1849, was bought by Egyptian-born Mr. Fayed in 1985. The store sells labels from Christian Dior to Mark Jacobs, offers lobster and caviar in its food hall and last year started selling gold bars.
"There are many elements of Harrods that are related to Al-Fayed," said Luca Solca, a London-based analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein. "With the new owners, there's an opportunity to give a more modern approach and concept to the store. Other London stores, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, are doing much better in terms of their offer and format of luxury goods."
Mr. Fayed also owns west London's Fulham Football Club. His other interests in Britain include VIP helicopter charter and private banking. His son, Dodi, was killed with Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 in a car crash in Paris.
Mr. Fayed's retirement would bring to an end a career marked by battles, including one with his former business partner Roland "Tiny" Rowland, whom he defeated to buy Harrods, and lawsuits involving politicians, including Neil Hamilton.
In 1999, Mr. Hamilton lost a libel lawsuit against Mr. Fayed, which he brought after the Egyptian said on television he had paid the former Conservative legislator to raise issues in Parliament.
-- Bloomberg News
First Published May 9, 2010 12:00 am