Merchant Court goes for $208 million

KINGDOM Holding, the investment company controlled by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, said its Fairmont Raffles Hotels International unit has sold The Swissotel Merchant Court in Singapore.

Bloomberg said yesterday the 476-room hotel was sold for US$153 million ($208 million), citing an emailed statement from Kingdom, which did not name the buyer.

“The sale of this hotel is in line with Kingdom’s strategy to continue to realise value from hotel assets either through a sale or aggressive operational and financial management across its hotel portfolio,” Mr P J Shoucair, the executive director for international investment, was quoted by Arab news agency MENAFN as saying.

Fairmont Raffles, a joint venture between Kingdom and United States-based private equity firm Colony Capital, last week called off a deal to sell Singapore’s iconic Raffles Hotel to a consortium led by former Credit Suisse banker Mark Pawley.

The consortium earlier planned to buy the grand old dame for a reported $650 million – more than triple the $200 million paid by its American and Middle Eastern owners in 2005. Fairmont Raffles would have continued running the property through a management contract if the sale had gone through.

Both parties declined to provide reasons for the scrapped deal, citing confidentiality clauses. The consortium’s spokesman, however, denied that funding was the cause.

Source : Today – 2 Jun 2008

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