Qatar in talks for German retail chain stake

Qatar is in talks to buy a stake in Germany’s Karstadt department-store chain, according to a report.

Qatar Holding, along with other potential investors, is currently talking with Jared Bluestein, head of Karstadt’s supervisory board, regarding the sale of a stake in the retail chain, according to a report by Der Spiegel magazine.

One of the most recognised retail brands in Germany, Karstadt runs 83 department stores, three premium stores, 26 sports stores, seven discount shops and an online retail site.

Founded in 1881, Karstadt averages more than 1m visitors per day and it portfolio includes KaDeWe in Berlin, the second largest department store in Europe, according to the retailer’s official website.

In July, Karstadt said it would slash 2,000 jobs from its 24,000-strong workforce by the end of 2014.

Der Spiegel did not reveal where it got its information from and a spokesperson for Nicolas Berggruen, Karstadt’s owner, dismissed the claims. Before being bought out by Berggruen in 2010, Karstadt had been facing bankruptcy.

The report comes just a day after Qatar was rumoured to be the mystery Middle East investor that had bought London-based handbag company, Anya Hindmarch, in a deal thought to be worth GBP£20-GBP£30m (US$31.2m-US$47m).

Both deals would significantly increase the Gulf state’s assets in the European luxury goods market. Qatar Holding paid US$2.3bn for the Knightsbridge department store Harrods in 2010 and also owns assets ranging from stakes in German sports car maker Porsche to shares in British bank Barclays.

Doha-based Mayhoola for Investments SPC acquired the Italian fashion house Valentino for €700m (US$857.5m) last month.

Analysts say the latest purchases have been spearheaded by the wife of the Qatari Emir, HH Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser, who is known for her love of fashion.

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