Another one bites the dust could be the theme as yet another New York Hotel Icon, The Plaza, is being sold to a foreign investor: Qatar’s state-owned Katara Holding will purchase the entire property and maintain sole ownership.
This comes after the other historic NYC hotel, The Waldorf Astoria, was sold to Chinese Investors for a record of almost two Billion US$.
Compared to the Waldorf/Anbang transaction however it seems that Katara Holding has a bargain on their hands as the US$600 Million purchase is not even a third of what has been paid by the scandal struck Chinese insurer Anbang for the Waldorf. Anbang has since been taken over by the Chinese government and the CEO sentenced for crimes against the state and various other violations.
You can read about the Plaza deal in the New York Times (access here).
The tiny but ultra-rich Gulf state of Qatar has agreed to buy one of New York’s most iconic buildings, the Plaza Hotel, for around $600 million, adding a development that was once owned by U.S. President Donald Trump to its luxury property portfolio.
Qatar’s state-owned Katara Holding is buying full ownership of the hotel, including a 75 percent stake from Indian business group Sahara India Pariwar, a source familiar with the deal told Reuters.
Katara and Sahara were not immediately available to comment. The source declined to be identified because the deal was not public.
Qatar has been buying top hotels and luxury properties in the West over the past decade as part of a drive by its $300 billion-plus sovereign wealth fund to diversify the wealth it accumulates from gas and oil exports.
Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, already owns landmark hotels such as The Savoy and The Connaught in London.
The Plaza Hotel deal is the largest investment in the Western property market by Qatar since the start of the blockade in June last year.
Trump bought the Plaza in 1988, but had to sell it to a group of investors including Saudi businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal more than two decades ago as part of a bankruptcy proceeding.
Prince Alwaleed had remained a minority shareholder in the hotel prior to the Qatari transaction. Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sahara has been trying to sell its stake for several years amid financial difficulties for its chairman, Subrata Roy.
A bunch of interesting figures involved in the historic ownership structure of The Plaza. Billionaire Subrata Roy has had his legal troubles in India and was ordered to pay back billions of dollars to investors. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was recent detained by his relative the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia in the infamous Ritz Carlton Prison as part of a government crackdown/shakeup accusing many figures of corruption.
The interesting part: After the Waldorf was sold to Anbang the U.S. State Department red-flagged the property for official government travel in fears of spying attempts.
Qatar isn’t exactly a hostile nation like China in intelligence/espionage matters but it’s still a foreign government so I can’t help but wonder if The Plaza will be off the list as well from now on.
While there is lots of fanfare regarding the sale to Qatar one should consider that the the hotel has already been owned to 75% by Sahara India Pariwar which belongs to Mr. Roy. Also Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding was a minority shareholder prior to this so not like it’s suddenly going from American owned to the claws of the Qatari’s.