Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Qatar just bought Harrods, the world’s most expensive department store, for $2.2 Billion


Have you ever heard of Harrods? The store is so expensive 20 years ago I saw a Baccarat crystal dining table on sale there for $1.5 Million. I saw a canopy bed for sale that had about 10 posts. The jewelry section has necklaces that can cost over $1 million. I lived in London for 10 years so I know the store very well. In the 80’s they wouldn’t even allow you in the store with a pair of jeans on, although I did see them let several beautiful women through despite not complying with the dress code! When you go to the stores website they advertise a pair of “The Ultimate Shades”, sunglasses made of 18 K gold with 206 Bulgari diamonds. As for the cost: “Price on request.” Click on “Harrods 360” at the top left of the Harrods link for a view of all the amazing rooms.

Qatar can get boring, but I’ll tell you what, they sure have a lot of oil and gas money to spend. Last week Qatar put in several orders to buy 787s from Boeing (BA). This week they bought Harrods.

Harrods has been around since 1834. Qatar bought it from Mohamed Al-Fayed who is retiring. He’s an interesting guy, although he lived in Britain for decades “both Labour and Conservative Home Secretaries rejected his applications” for citizenship due to numerous run-ins with the government and important British businessmen. His son Dodi died with Princess Diana in that tragic Paris car crash in 1997. The stairway at Harrods looks like some sort of Egyptian Tomb with Mohamed Al-Fayed as Pharaoh. There are shrines for Dodi and Diana.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Bin Jaber Al-Thani said on Sunday “I can assure you that Qatar Holding will do their best to upgrade this monument to make it even greater and better for the tourism and also for the British people.” The store is already incredible, I can’t imagine what it will look like if there are a few hundred million dollars more in upgrades!
It is thought that Qatar, and possibly other foreign investors, might buy out more British retailers. The British pound is down 9.2 percent against the dollar from its high this year making the purchases cheaper to businesses from outside the U.K. Best Buy (BBY) and Wal-mart (WMT) have both announced major expansion plans there. This might make stocks in U.K. retailers a good bet over the next few months.

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