Al Fayed sells Harrods to Qatari royals: statement
Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed has sold luxury London department store Harrods to Qatar Holding, the Gulf royal family's investment arm, Fayed's advisors Lazard said Saturday.
"The Al Fayed family trust, owners of Harrods, announce that they have today sold the Harrods Group to Qatar Holding," Lazard said in a statement.
Media reports suggest Al Fayed, who also owns Fulham football club, sold the store for 1.5 billion pounds (2.2 billion dollars, 1.7 billion euros).
Al Fayed is retiring after 25 years as chairman of Harrods to spend more time with his children and grand-children and believed Qatar Holdings would continue to promote it as a luxury brand, the statement said.
His son Dodi was killed in the 1997 Paris car crash that killed Princess Diana, and he spent 10 years trying unsuccessfully to prove their death was not an accident. A shrine to the couple remains in Harrods.
Al Fayed and his brothers bought a 30 percent stake in the House of Fraser group, which owned Harrods at the time, in 1983, and a year later bought the remaining shares in a bitter multi-million-pound takeover battle.
The deal was part of a long-running battle between Al Fayed and businessman Tiny Rowland that endured throughout the 1980s.
Since then Harrods, based in the exclusive Knightsbridge district of London, has maintained its position as one of the world's top department stores, favoured by celebrities and tourists alike.
"After 25 years as chairman of Harrods, Mohamed Al Fayed has decided to retire and to spend more time with his children and grand-children," Lazard International chairman Ken Costa said in the statement.
"He has built Harrods into a unique luxury brand with worldwide recognition" and wished to ensure this legacy would continue, he said.
Qatar Holding, only the fifth owner of Harrods since its creation in 1840, "was specifically chosen by the trust as they had both the vision and financial capacity to support the long term successful growth of Harrods", he said.
© 2010 AFP