Feb 02

Harrods, Canary Wharf, now British Airways: Here’s what Qatar owns in the UK

You won’t believe how many British assets the oil-rich emirate holds stakes in

Blimey, Qatar – as if you didn’t own enough UK assets already.

It was only two days ago that we learnt that Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, along with Canadian developers Brookfield Properties, won the bid to buy London’s Canary Wharf for some £2.6bn.

But that seemingly isn’t enough for the oil-rich emirate, which is about the size of Yorshire and ranks among the five countries with the highest GDP per capita.

Today it’s been announced that state-owned Qatar Airways is to become the biggest shareholder in IAG, the parent company of British Airways.

It’ll own 9.99%, the maximum permitted by EU ownership rules.

Qatar reportedly bought the stake for $1.7bn.

Qatar Holdings also already owns 20% of Heathrow Airport.

Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “We’re delighted to have Qatar Airways, one of the world’s premier airlines, as a long term supportive shareholder.

“We will talk to them about what opportunities exist to work more closely together and further IAG’s ambitions as the leading global airline group”.


But Qatar’s stake is already causing consternation among aviation and equality observers.

That’s because Qatar Airways has positively archaic attitudes to women.

Female airline staff are not allowed to get married, and the company is allowed to terminate women’s contracts if they get pregnant.

What British assets does Qatar own?

A fair amount, actually – below is a selection.

Just so you know, Qatar was formerly a British protectorate. Its royal family have ruled the emirate for the past century-and-a-half.

IAG, owner of British Airways: 10% owned by Qatar Airways, owned by QIA

Details are in the story above.

The Shard: 95% owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund

Also, Emiratis apparently bought almost one in 30 London homes worth more than £2m in 2011.

Heathrow Airport: 20% owned by Qatar Holdings, a subsidiary of QIA

It snapped up this stake in 2012 for £900m.

Harrods: owned by Qatar Holdings

Bought in 2010 for £1.5bn. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani told the FT that year: “We are investing everywhere. Even your Harrods – we took it.”

Barclays: Just under 7% owned by Qatar Investment Authority

Qatar helped the bank avoid a government bail-out in 2008, though accusations of wrongdoing followed in late 2012 relating to the intricacies of the deal. Read more.

The Olympic Village: owned by Qatari Diar, property investment company owned by QIA

Acquired in 2011 for some £557m, though critics said the UK was left significantly short-changed.

Chelsea Barracks: owned by Qatari Diar

It won planning permission for the £1bn site in 2011.

Sainsbury’s: 26% owned by Qatar

Qatar increased its stake to more than a quarter of the supermarket in 2007, becoming its biggest stakeholder.

One Hyde Park: joint venture between Qatari prime minister and Candy Brothers

The £1bn project is a joint venture between the Candy brothers’ CPC Group, and Waterknights, the development company owned by Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.

London Stock Exchange: 8% stake

This is reduced from the 20% stake it bought in 2007.

This article was updated at 3:30pm on 30 January as Market Tech Holdings owns Camden Market, not Chelsfield. Camden Market is therefore not under Qatari ownership.