Saudi prince puts Singapore Raffles up for sale
16th Apr 2009
Singapore’s legendary Raffles Hotel, home to the Singapore Sling cocktail, has been put up for sale by its owner Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia for a price tag of up to £300 million.The Fairmont Raffles Hotel International group, part of the Prince’s Kingdom Holding Company, is seeking buyers as it tightens its purse strings in the global downturn.
According to The Times, the Prince is looking to divest a range of his holdings in response to a sharp slump in the value of his largest investments, most significantly Citigroup in which he owns a 3.9 percent stake - shares in the banking group have fallen from US$50 to US$4 in less than a year. In October he attempted to stabilise the crash by raising his holding to 5 percent, but the shares have continued to slide.
Other interests that have taken a hit include Songbird Estates, the majority holder of Canary Wharf, as well as Eurodisney and News Corporation.
Kingdom Hotel Investments, a small London-listed vehicle in which he has a 55 per cent stake, has lost more than two thirds of its value in the past 12 months.
According to Fortune magazine, the Prince’s wealth has fallen from $21 billion to about $13 billion over the past year, putting him 22nd in the magazine’s list of the world’s top billionaires.
The Prince is hoping raise funds by selling parts of his hotel empire. These could include his 33 percent stake in Mövenpick Hotels and possibly even The Savoy, London, which is scheduled to reopen at the end of the year after a £100 million overhaul.
“He’s having a very challenging time,” one analyst close to the Prince told the Times. “He’s definitely a seller rather than a buyer. He’d sell just about anything at the right price, although finding buyers able to fund such deals is the challenge.”
Other assets for sale include the Fairmont Copley Plaza, in Boston, and the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, in Hamburg.