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Lebanese investors buy Movenpick

The Movenpick Hotel in Beirut, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: The Movenpick Hotel in Beirut’s Raouche has been bought by a group of Lebanese businessmen for close to $110 million from Saudi-based Kingdom Holding Company, which is owned by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a source familiar with the deal said. “A group of Lebanese businessmen have bought the Movenpick Hotel for around $110 million, and this amount also covers the loans the hotel owes to the commercial banks,” the source told The Daily Star Friday. The group will keep the Movenpick name at least for a few months, but may consider changing it in the future, they added.

But the source declined to reveal the names of the investors, which the source said are new to the hospitality sector.

Last year, Kingdom Holding sold its 55 percent stake in the Four Seasons Hotel, situated in Downtown Beirut, for around $110 million.

Stretching over an area of 20,000 square meters, the Movenpick Hotel consist of 380 rooms, 100 chalets, four restaurants, a shopping area as well a parking lot for 400 cars.

Kingdom Holding has also sold its 90 percent stake in the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, Malaysia.

Based in Riyadh, Kingdom Holding also holds interests in marquee properties such as the George V in Paris, the Plaza Hotel in New York and London’s Savoy Hotel.

Its global hotel brands include the Four Seasons, Fairmont Raffles, Movenpick, Swissotel and Accor.

Prince Alwaleed, whose fortune was once estimated at $20 billion according to Forbes Magazine, was among the wealthy detainees held by Saudi authorities at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh in November last year.

The Saudi authorities accused Prince Alwaleed and a group of Saudi princes, sheikhs and investors of corruption and abuse of power.

Officials in the kingdom froze the bank accounts of 11 princes and 38 former government ministers, deputies and businessmen in an anti-corruption sweep.

The Saudi Information Ministry previously stated that the government would seize any asset or property related to the alleged corruption, meaning that the Savoy hotel could eventually become the property of the kingdom.

“The accounts and balances of those detained will be revealed and frozen,” a spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s Information Ministry said at the time.

“Any asset or property related to these cases of corruption will be registered as state property.”

Prince Alwaleed was eventually released but was apparently barred from leaving the kingdom.

It is still not yet clear what the fate of the Kingdom Holding is after the Saudi authorities’ detention of Prince Alwaleed.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 20, 2018, on page 4.

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