‘Arab Tycoon’ to Buy Cambridge College

A Cambridge college could be bought out by a billionaire Arab philanthropist, sources within the University have revealed.

A Cambridge college could be bought out by a billionaire Arab philanthropist, a source in the University has revealed this week.

Speaking anonymously to THE TAB, the source suggested that a cash-strapped college may sell its name to an unspecified Middle-Eastern businessman. Potential targets include  Magdalene and King’s, whose historical appearances and uncertain finances mark them out as obvious choices.

Though unconfirmed, the buyer may well be Wafic Said, founder of the Said business school in Oxford, who is worth £1bn according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

Sources close to Mr Said refused to comment, but it is rumoured that the magnate was inspired by his work in Oxford and wishes to expand into Cambridge.

It’s possible that the mogul’s investment would be conditional on a name change or an increased emphasis on business, a move that would help satisfy the increased demand among students to study Business and Management at Cambridge.

The Said business school doesn’t seem to suffer from the financial difficulties which plague many Cambridge colleges.

King’s, for example, spends vast amounts of cash on maintaining its historic buildings. It estimates that £12 million will be needed for upkeep over the next 10 years – including £3 million on the chapel.

The impressive architecture is a massive strain on the college’s budget, prompting fears that newer sources of funding might need to be found.

In the past, big endowments have meant even bigger changes for colleges.

New Hall became Murray Edwards last year when Ros Smith and Steve Edwards donated a whopping £30million.

Fears that Said’s potential involvement might result in a name change are as yet unconfirmed, but it is clear that the Syrian tycoon could easily eclipse Smith and Edwards’s contribution.



Said arrived in Britain from his native Syria in the 1960s. His first venture was helping his brother to run a kebab shop; fifty years later, he is one of the wealthiest men in the country.

His estimated £1 billion fortune is today in investment holding companies, but much of his previous work has been shrouded in secrecy.

He is credited with helping ensure that the government of Saudi Arabia bought British planes and jets in Al-Yamamah, Britain’s biggest ever arms deal.

Said used connections with the Saudi Royal Family, made during his early years in the UK, to secure the £40bn deal which has kept BAE afloat for the last twenty years.

The opening of the Said business school in Oxford fuelled protests from students who objected to the Al-Yamamah deal

Wafic Said's bust  at the Said Business School in Oxford, which was founded with his £25million donation.

which made Said his fortune.

The school, which has cost Said £45million, is one of the world’s top business institutions.

Its modern architecture and forward-looking ethos marks it out from the old-fashioned and traditional feel of Oxford’s spires.


Last night several colleges moved to distance themselves from the rumours.

Sources at Downing seemed unaware of a potential deal.

“Nothing like that is happening here at all,” a spokesperson said.

The suggestion was also met with disbelief by University Authorities, but several sources have confirmed that enquiries have been made. And although the identity of any potential buyer has not been confirmed, Wafic Said remains the most obvious candidate.

Mr Said himself was unavailable for comment.