Selfridges is negotiating with Qatari investors over a possible sale for four billion pounds (€4.7 billion), which would see the luxury department store change hands for the first time in almost 20 years.
According to the Mail on Sunday, funds linked to Qatar are in pole position to take over Selfridges. Such a deal would mean that the Middle Eastern state would own a second major London department store. Harrods already passed into Qatari hands in 2010 via the sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority.
The wealthy Weston family launched an auction for Selfridges in July after a difficult year in which it was forced to close for several months. The group operates four Selfridges stores in the UK and also owns Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland, Holt Renfrew in Canada and De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands. However, the Qatari authorities are said to be primarily interested in the UK business.
Selfridges was founded in 1908 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, an American retail magnate who developed the company into a household name. He resigned as chairman in 1941.
Canadian billionaire Galen Weston bought Selfridges in 2003 for 598 million pounds (about 700 million euros). He died in April at the age of 80 and his daughter Alannah Weston is now in charge of the department store chain.