Harrods set its sights on Australian shopping centre chains Katies, Millers and Rivers

Harrods set its sights on Australian shopping centre chains Katies, Millers and Rivers

The owner of iconic Knightsbridge department store Harrods has set its sights on Australia’s embattled retail sector after making a USD 135 million bid for the owner of shopping centre chains Katies, Millers and Rivers.

Al Alfia, an investment company controlled by Qatar Royal Family, who are best known as the owner of London icon Harrods, has made a 70 cents-a -share bid for Specialty Fashion Group, an offer that values the business at about USD 135 million.

The bid represents a premium of more than 30 % to the Specialty Fashion Group’s 52 cents closing price on February 7, 2017, before news of the bid landed and has surprised a number of local investors, who ran the ruler over the group’s stable of budget fashion chains in the past year.

One potential buyer said the price tag on Specialty Fashion Group was too big to pique its interest but it’s understood Al Alfia’s interest in the mid-market apparel brands is more about geographical diversification than opportunism.

Sources close to Al Alfia suggest the investment vehicle may buy-up other Australian retail operations as part of a broader push to diversify its global investment portfolio, however it’s not believed to be negotiating any other deals at the moment.

One insider said the deal was not an “opportunistic” investment timed to take advantage of the tough market conditions for Australian apparel traders but more a move to increase the vehicles exposure to the Australian market and surrounding regions.

“(Al Alfia) has been in discussions with Specialty Fashion Group for some time, well before these recent corporate collapses,” one source said.

In addition to Harrods, the Qatar royal family has a majority stake in UK supermarket chain Sainsburys as part of its billion dollar international investment portfolio.


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