Selfridges owners are in discussions with Qatar about a potential £4 billion sale that would see the luxury department store change hands for the first time in almost 20 years.
Funds linked to Qatar have taken the lead in the race to acquire Selfridges.
The deal would see Qatar take ownership of a second London department store, after buying Harrods in 2010 through its sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).
Discussions with the Qataris had included the possibility of buying only the Selfridges department stores, potentially excluding the group’s Irish shops Brown Thomas and Arnotts, Holt Renfrew in Canada and de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands – all owned by the billionaire Weston family.
The Weston family in July launched an auction for Selfridges after a difficult year during which it was forced to close for several months.
The group operates four Selfridges stores in the UK – in London, Birmingham and Manchester where it has two.
Canadian billionaire Galen Weston bought Selfridges for £598 million in 2003. His daughter Alannah Weston is now in charge of the business.
Other sovereign wealth funds rumoured to be interested in buying Selfridges include Saudi Arabia.
Credit Suisse has been appointed to oversee the auction.