KENYA – Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal has sold his stake in the troubled Fairmont The Norfolk and Fairmont Mara Safari Club to a Chaudhary group for KSh2.8 billion (US$26.38m). The mega deal was closed ahead of the global spread of Covid-19, reports Business Daily.
Prince Al-Waleed, through his investment vehicle, Kingdom Holding, sold his stake to the Chaudhary Group (CG). The prince has been reorganising his portfolio months after being detained in Saudi Arabia’s sweeping crackdown on corruption.
“Prince Alwaleed is no longer in the game after surrendering the ownership of remaining hotel business in Kenya and his investment group is focusing somewhere else. The transaction has been closed and now the Nepalese owners are embarking on a full 100 percent renovation that will go for a whole one year,” a transaction advisor said who participated in the Fairmont deal.
Chaudhary Group, which is associated with Binod Chaudhary, a billionaire Nepalese lawmaker, has already listed the two hotels among its string of high-end hospitality investments spread in Asia and the Middle East.
It says the deal will give it an additional 170 guest rooms and suites, 51 luxury tents and about 10 food and beverage outlets.
The acquisition of the iconic Nairobi hotel and the Mara tented facility will be the second deal in the region for the Kathmandu-based multinational which also owns Le Relax Hotel in the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles.
Chaudhary Group also has investments in banking, education, energy, telecommunication and pharmaceuticals with operations in five continents. The Group Chairman and President, Binod, is estimated to be worth U$1.4 billion (Sh148.5 billion), according to Nepalese media reports.
Kingdom Hotel Investments shelled out Sh6 billion in 2005 to acquire and upgrade the Lonrho properties – the last remnants of British aristocrat Tiny Rowland’s vast empire.
They included the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, the Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki, the Aberdare Country Club, the Ark and the Mara Safari Club.
Now in his 60s, the flamboyant prince is a serial investor in top global luxury hotel chains. He has in the past 30 years built up a fortune worth US$20.4 billion (KSh2.1 trillion), according to Bloomberg.
Prince Al-Waleed also has major stakes in News Corp, Citigroup and Twitter. He co-owned the Four Seasons hotel chain along with American billionaire Bill Gates and is the owner of London’s landmark luxury hotel, The Savoy.
His other hotel investments include the George V in Paris and the Plaza in New York.