British luxury goods store Harrods sold for $2.2B

LONDON

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Harrods sold to Qatar group for $2.2 billion

Retail baron Mohamed Al Fayed has agreed to sell iconic London department store Harrods Ltd. to Qatar Holding for roughly $2.2 billion, according to statements on Saturday. People familiar with the deal said Qatar Holding paid $2.2 billion, according to reports. Qatar Holding, the investment arm of Qatar's royal family, becomes the fifth owner of Harrods since it first opened its doors in 1840. The Egypt-born Fayed, 77, served as chairman for 25 years. He is the father of Dodi Fayed, who was killed in the 1997 car crash that took the life of Princess Diana. The store has counted Sigmund Freud and Oscar Wilde among its customers, sells labels from Christian Dior to Mark Jacobs, offers lobster and caviar in its food hall and last year started selling gold bars for the first time.

CARACAS, Venezuela

Chavez has claim to top tweeter

President Hugo Chavez is tops on Twitter in Venezuela less than 2 weeks after launching his account, surpassing Internet-savvy foes who dominate the social networking site and use it to oppose him. Chavez's account, "chavezcandanga," had racked up more than 237,000 followers as of Saturday morning — besting the 234,000 who receive tweets from Globovision, the only TV channel that remains critical of the socialist leader. Chavez has trumpeted the meteoric rise of his Twitter popularity while downplaying the critical messages he receives. "Some criticize me, others insult me. I don't care," he said. "It's a form of contact with the world."

MANILA, Philippines

Campaigns end for Monday's election

Candidates finished campaigning Saturday for national elections Monday amid a rush to replace faulty software in more than 76,000 machines that will count the country's first electronic vote. More than 17,000 positions from president to municipal councilors will be contested. There are about 50 million registered voters. Opposition Sen. Benigno Aquino III, son of the country's democracy icons, has a big lead over eight other presidential candidates.

Elsewhere

New Delhi: Maoist rebels blew up an army truck Saturday killing eight paramilitary soldiers and wounding two others in a densely forested area in Bijapur district of Chattisgarh state, said Vishwa Ranjan, the state's director general of police. The rebels killed 76 paramilitary soldiers in an ambush on April 6.

Ramallah, West Bank: Formal Palestinian approval of indirect talks with Israel cleared the way Saturday for President Barack Obama's attempt to bring peace to the Middle East. White House envoy George Mitchell will try in four months of shuttle diplomacy to rebuild trust between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and narrow some of their vast differences.

Times wires

British luxury goods store Harrods sold for $2.2B 05/08/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 8, 2010 8:30pm]

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