Thursday, July 26, 2007

Albion al arrabiata

"Qatari investors have been quietly buying up British businesses with their overflowing state coffers. But the potential takeover of Sainsbury by an investment fund backed by the kingdom's royal family is throwing the spotlight on the Gulf state. The seriousness of their intentions was highlighted by last week's meeting between Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al Thani and the Sainsbury family. Sheikh Hamad is a cousin of the Emir of Qatar and its prime minister. The move on Sainsbury's is through Delta Two, a fund controlled by the £20bn Qatar Investment Authority, of which Sheikh Hamad is the chief executive. His closeness to the deal means in reality Delta Two's access to cash is almost limitless.

Like its neighbours Kuwait and Dubai, the former British protectorate wants to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by diversifying its investments. It bankrolls Arab TV network al-Jazeera and was outbid by Macquarie for Thames Water last year. Since its launch last year, the Delta Two fund has spent £3bn buying up nursing home operators Four Seasons and NHP, as well as Senad, which runs special needs schools. The Qataris already employ 50,000 Britons. If they succeed in buying Sainsbury that figure will exceed 200,000."

More on the Qatari bid to buy Sainsbury's. Note how it is written. The article from The guardian is titled: "What was on the Sheikh's menu?" What an image: The Arab about to eat Britain.

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