Bill Gates is becoming a hotelier as his investment firm Cascades just purchased a controlling stake in Four Seasons Hotels for a whopping $2.21 Billion from Saudi Arabia based Kingdom Holding.
Although Cascades first invested in Four Seasons back in 1997 this is a major jump, taking over half of Kingdom’s stake in the brand.
Kingdom Holding is owned by none other than Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the countries most prominent business figure and one of the governments 2017 shakedown targets which saw him detained in the Ritz Carlton Riyadh.
Now Kingdom Holdings has decided to sell over half of their holdings in Four Seasons which is strange considering how Prince Alwaleed has always expressed his love for the brand in the past and how it has a sentimental value for him.
Of course a very plain answer to this could be that they simply needed money. Stranger things have happened in these times.
As Reuters reports the deal is worth $2.21 Billion that Cascades has to cough up.
Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment LLC is taking control of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts by buying about half of Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s stake for $2.21 billion, the hotel operator said on Wednesday.
Cascade will acquire half of the billionaire prince’s stake in Four Seasons, raising its ownership to 71.3% and valuing the hotel chain at $10 billion on an enterprise basis.
Prince Alwaleed, through investment vehicle Kingdom Holding Co, will continue to own the remaining stake, Four Seasons said in a statement.
While the prince owns stakes in many companies such as Citigroup Inc and ride-hailing firm Lyft Inc, his investment firm has been selling its stakes in hotels over the last 10 years.
Separately, Kingdom Holding said it would use the cash proceeds from the divestment for future investment and pay down a part of outstanding loans.
Cascade declined to comment beyond the press release. The firm first invested in Four Seasons in 1997.The hotel operator, which manages 121 properties and has over 50 projects in the pipeline, was taken private a decade later by a consortium led by Cascade, Prince Alwaleed and the hotel chain’s founder Isadore Sharp.
Sharp will keep his 5% stake as part of the deal.
The luxury hotel industry just as the hospitality industry overall has received a good shake during the past 18 months but these are ultimately investments without any personal involvement of the principal figures unless Bll Gates wants to start a new career as a Concierge at the Four Seasons Seattle.
It’s always interesting to see who owns which hotel groups although I’m not a big fan when a hotel property or chain ultimately has to answer to an investment company. There is often a mentality to drive down costs and increase profits for shareholders which in many cases has a negative effect on the customer experience.
Hopefully Cascades will continue to the let the professionals at Four Seasons manage the brand and not interfere too much.
Cascades Investments, the company founded and currently chaired by Bill Gates, has purchased a significant stake of Four Seasons shares from Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed and his Kingdom Holdings. Cacades now owns a controlling share of Four Seaons.
Cascades was founded by Gates in 1995 and has since then invested in other hospitality projects such as the Ritz Carlton San Francisco and Strategic Hotels & Resorts.