High street stalwart Marks & Spencer (M&S) is the subject of a potential takeover bid from Qatar, it has been reported.
The country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, is considering acquiring the British retailer and has approached private equity firms in a bid to move the deal forward, according to The Sunday Telegraph, which noted that the retailer is yet to be officially approached about the move.
Qatar, which bought luxury retailer Harrods in 2010 and has a nearly 30 per cent stake in grocer Sainsbury’s , is set to invest heavily in the UK in the coming years and a potential £2 billion sale-and-leaseback deal for the chain’s store portfolio is one option for buyers.
One source told The Telegraph: “If you raised £2 billion through a sale-and-lease-back you would need £2 billion of equity and about £4 billion of debt.
“In theory it could be possible now – but there are still lots of issues.”
M&S has struggled in recent months to strengthen its General Merchandise (GM) offer and like-for-like (LFL) sales dipped 1.8 per cent in the 13 weeks to December 29th 2012, as GM LFLs fell 3.8 per cent.
Such disappointing figures followed a restructuring of the retailer’s GM team as GM Executive Director Kate Bostock stepped down from her role last year amid continuing poor sales in the category.