MADRID (Reuters) - Privately owned Spanish department store chain El Corte Ingles has sold a 10 percent stake for 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al Thani, the former Prime Minister of Qatar, it said on Monday.
It is the first time that El Corte Ingles, a household name in Spain, has opened its share capital to a foreign investor.
El Corte Ingles said the shares will come from its treasury stock and that the purchase is a strategic one for its new investor, who will have a seat on the board of the food, clothing and household goods retailer.
Its majority shareholders are the descendants of Ramon Areces, who founded the company in the 1930s and turned it into one of Spain’s largest employers, and one of the biggest retailers in Europe.
With 14.2 billion euros of sales in 2013, it also operates businesses including insurance, information technology, travel booking and ticketing for concerts and theater, marketing to its store card holders.
It has still largely been focused on its home market, however, which is recovering from a deep economic crisis.
Newspaper El Pais said the Qatari investment could lead to an eventual stock market listing, though it did not cite any sources.
In recent years, El Corte Ingles has shown signs it is opening up, selling a 51 percent stake in its consumer finance business to Santander (SAN.MC) bank in 2013.
Reporting by Tracy Rucinski, Editing by Sarah White and Susan Thomas