Qatar’s empty basket

DUBAI — For the second time in just over a year Qatar has walked away from a major deal in the UK. In dropping its bid for the supermarket chain Sainsbury it has not only damaged its reputation but is also currently sitting on significant losses.

By Mark T. Townsend (Business Editor)

Published: Tue 6 Nov 2007, 9:20 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:10 PM

Having built a stake of 25 per cent in the last few months it probably has a ‘blended’ share price of somewhere between 580p-590p. Yesterday the share price plummeted to as low as 439p following the announcement. On the downside the share price should find support at around 430p but the nearside investment losses demonstrate an inexperience that will unsettle market observers.

Given the uncertainty of Qatar’s next move and alternative scenarios it is expected this could open the door for hedge funds to exert heavy downward pressure on the share price.

The unravelling of the deal also leaves Sainsbury with many questions to answer — in particular considering such a highly leveraged transaction and seeking a deal with an inexperienced investor. It is also the second failed bid for the chain within seven months following the exit of CVC Capital Partners.

What the matter demonstrates is that whilst sovereign funds are awash with liquidity the same cannot be said for investment expertise. As Qatar increasingly competes with Dubai it appears as if the latter has established an almost unbridgeable lead.

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