House of Fraser is the latest UK firm to attract Qatar bid interest

Marion Dakers
QATARI investors have held talks about making a bid for department store chain House of Fraser, according to reports over the weekend.

House of Fraser, which last year attracted interest from Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley and fellow retailer John Lewis, is believed to have spoken to representatives from a Qatari family in recent months about a possible takeover.

House of Fraser has more than 60 branches in the UK and Ireland and generates almost £1.3bn in sales a year.

The 164-year-old group was taken private by a consortium of investors known as the Highland Group in 2006.

It now counts Icelandic bank Landsbanki – which led the consortium – Scottish tycoon Sir Tom Hunter and executive chairman Don McCarthy among its shareholders.

House of Fraser did not return calls for comment yesterday.

Investors from Qatar already have a strong presence on the British retail scene.

The country’s sovereign wealth fund bought Harrods from Mohamed Al-Fayed in 2010 and also holds a 26 per cent stake in Sainsbury’s.

Talk of Qatari interest in retailer Marks & Spencer earlier this year sent the high street stalwart’s shares up seven per cent, though the potential bidders are yet to break cover and table an offer.