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Saudi PIF ‘interested’ in buying stake in UK Selfridges

Selfridges Creative Commons/AttributionShareAlike
As well as its flagship London store, Selfridges has stores in Birmingham (above) and two in Manchester in the UK

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is looking to buy a stake in British luxury department store Selfridges after the collapse of one of its owners, as it seeks ways to improve funding flows to Saudi giga-projects. 

Austrian company Signa faces insolvency, opening up its 50 percent share in Selfridges to acquisition. The other owner is Thailand’s Central Group. 

Britain’s Telegraph reported on March 16 that PIF and French conglomerate Kering are interested parties. Kering owns luxury brands including Gucci, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent. 



A spokesman for PIF did not respond to a request for comment. 

PIF has raised $7 billion in two separate bond issues this year, as it ramps up plans to tap debt markets or secure bank loans to alleviate funding pressure on local banks amid forecasts of budget deficits until at least 2026. 

PIF owns the giga-projects at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic transformation plan. 

Some are running to meet deadlines, such as the World Expo in Riyadh in 2030 and Asian Winter Games in the Neom resort of Trojena in 2029. 

But although it is looking to divest some of its portfolio to help with funding, PIF is still on the lookout for lucrative opportunities. 

Bloomberg reported this week PIF is in discussions to acquire government-owned national airline Saudia, which is due to operate alongside PIF-owned Riyadh Air when it begins flights in 2025. 

Selfridges cost Signa and Central Group £4 billion pounds ($5.1 billion) to buy in 2021. In 2022 Brand Finance Middle East gave Saudia a brand value of $572 million. 

PIF has recently paid similar amounts for prestige brands. In December reports said it was to take a 49 percent stake in British hotel group Rocco Forte for a total £1.4 billion. 

The British economy entered a technical recession in the final quarter of 2023, impacting the retail sector. But in-store shopping has seen a rebound since the Covid pandemic ended, after taking a hit from online shopping.

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