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Qatar mulls bid for Britain's Marks & Spencer

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Qatar is considering an £8 billion ($12.1 billion, 9.2 billion euro) bid for British retailer Marks & Spencer, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, has approached leading banks and private equity houses ahead of a potential move on the high street chain, senior sources in London's financial industry told the broadsheet.

M&S, which sells clothes, food and homeware, was founded in 1884 and was once one of the world's most profitable retailing company.

But it has struggled from poor clothing sales in recent years.

Its sales over the last quarter sank 1.8 percent compared to the previous year.

Shares in the retailer closed at 372.5 pence on Friday, giving it a value of £6 billion.

Qatar has a growing commercial and property empire in Britain.

Its government bought luxury retailer Harrods in 2010 and it owns a 26 percent stake in Britain's third-largest supermarket chain, Sainsbury's.

Qatar also financed 95 percent of the construction of the Shard, western Europe's tallest skyscraper and has a stake in Barclays bank.

Marks & Spencer has more than 700 stores across Britain as well as over 400 stores in 44 countries across the world.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130317/qatar-mulls-bid-britains-marks-spencer