Sainsbury's
Sainsbury's shareholders are allegedly being short changedReuters

Qatar Holding, the largest shareholder in Sainsbury's, is estimated to have had about £1.5bn ($2.42bn, €1.91bn) wiped from its balance sheet as value haemorrhages from the UK retailer, the Telegraph has calculated.

Shares in Sainsbury's are trading at an 11-year low, down more than a third in 2014, following its third sales decline in a row.

The Qataris own a 26% stake in Sainsbury's. The Sainsbury's family share ownership is around 14% and other long-term institutional investors own the remainder.

Some city commentators have said Sainsbury's would benefit from a change of status, which would allow management to be both more strategic and flexible against the challenging market backdrop.

Rumours of a Qatar-led takeover of Sainsbury's resurfaced in July 2014. Reportedly, the Qataris were underwhelmed with Mike Coupe's appointment as chief executive to succeed Justin King, who was credited with turning the group around during an impressive 10-year tenure.

A first attempt at a Qatar takeover was dropped back in 2007 thanks to the credit crunch and resistance from the Sainsbury's family office. The plan was to expanding the brand overseas, opening stores in the Middle East, Korea, and China, where the Qatar government has strong links.

Nick Bubb, a retail analyst at Zeus Capital, told IBTimes UK: "It's been a pretty awful investment for them over the last six years, more than halving in value, and it's unlikely that they will want to throw good money after bad, although speculation to the contrary is inevitable."