Kasada Hospitality Fund acquires Kenya’s Crowne Plaza Hotel

KENYAKasada Hospitality Fund, which is backed by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) — the country’s sovereign wealth fund—has fully acquired Crowne Plaza Hotel for an estimated KSh4.6 billion (US$38.77m) from tycoon Nazir Ahmed Akbarali.

The deal, which has received regulatory approval, adds to Kasada’s asset acquisitions on the continent after snapping hotels in Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon and Namibia over the past 18 months.

The hotel was opened in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area in 2010 and tapped the Crowne Plaza brands under the InterContinental Hotels Group.

Crowne Plaza is owned by Golden Jubilee Limited where tycoon Akbarali owns 97.5 percent and Anish Akbarali 2.5 percent.

The owners had targeted selling the hotel in early 2020 but the plans were scuttled by the Covid-19 pandemic, which triggered a travel slump.

Kenya’s tourism industry has started to pull out of its deep Covid-19-induced slump as local travellers take advantage of lower prices, but foreign visitor numbers are still well below pre-pandemic levels.

A number of top hotels, including Hilton, InterContinental, and Laico Regency in Nairobi’s city centre, stopped operations amid the coronavirus economic fallout. Some hotels changed hands.

Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal sold his stake in The Norfolk and Fairmont Mara Safari Club to a Nepalese tycoon for KSh2.8 billion (US$23.60m) while City Lodge offloaded Nairobi’s Fairview Hotel, Town Lodge and City Lodge Two Rivers to real estate investor Actis for KSh1 billion (US$8.43m).

For Crowne Plaza, the sale came amidst a fight with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) over taxes.

For Kasada, the deal offers the fund a piece of the Kenyan hospitality market. The fund was launched in 2018 with the backing of the Qatar Investment Authority, which has more than half of its assets in private equity and listed shares as it chases higher returns.

It was also backed by French group Accor.

Kasada Hospitality Fund raised US$500 million (KSh60 billion) in April 2019, with Qatar Investment Authority providing US$350 million (KSh42 billion) and Accor providing the balance of US$150 million (KSh18 billion).

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