The department store Harrods has been sold for a fee of around £1.5bn, according to reports on British TV yesterday. Owner Mohammed Al-Fayed has agreed to sell the exclusive west London store to Qatar Holdings. The deal was signed in the early hours of 8 May, according to the BBC.

A colourful and controversial figure, Al- Fayed acquired Harrods in 1985 following a £615m takeover bid.

Al-Fayed's motivation for selling was unclear, but the price tag was not inconsiderable in a post-recessionary market.

The BBC said that Al-Fayed will stay on in some capacity but will not be involved in running the company day-to-day.

Al Fayed's British business interests include the Premiership football club Fulham FC and a recent rich list put his fortune at £650m.