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Qatar fund shedding stakes in China, Hong Kong department store operators

Sovereign wealth fund Qatar Holding LLC is selling its entire stakes in department store operators Lifestyle International Holdings Ltd. and Lifestyle China Group Ltd. for HK$5.2 billion via share placements, according to March 20 filings with the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Lifestyle International, which operates the Sogo department stores in Hong Kong, said its substantial shareholder Bellshill Investment Co., a unit of Qatar Holding, will off-load its 23.16% stake in the company for HK$4.45 billion.

Bellshill is selling 371,122,958 shares of Lifestyle International at HK$12 each. Lifestyle International chairman Thomas Lau agreed to buy 280,000,000 shares to raise his direct and indirect shareholding in the company to 69.16% from 51.69%.

Lifestyle China, a separately listed affiliate of Lifestyle International that operates Jiuguang brand stores in mainland China, also said Bellshill agreed to divest 371,122,958 shares, or 23.16% of the company, at HK$2.03 per share for a total of HK$753.4 million. Lau will buy 186,000,000 shares, lifting his stake in Lifestyle China to 63.30% from 51.69%.

Bellshill did not give a reason for the sales. It has hired UBS as its sole placing agent.

The share placements will close on or around March 28.

In a move to diversify its global retail investment portfolio, Bellshill bought into Lifestyle International in October 2014 by spending HK$4.78 billion on a 19.9% stake sold by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd. and Lau's family. In December 2014, it boosted the holding by another 2.88% for HK$691.4 million.

Qatar Holding also has stakes in European department store operator Harrods Ltd. and luxury house LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, according to S&P Capital IQ data.