Khalaf Al Habtoor, the Dubai-based businessman and chairman of the Al Habtoor Group, is fronting a consortium of “Middle Eastern tycoons” aiming to buy up landmark hotels in London, according to a report in the UK.
The Sunday Times said that the group was planning to spend more than £1bn ($1.7bn) as it plans to build a new “pan-European leisure empire”.
The group is also being led by Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners. Staveley, a Briton with extensive connections with high-profile Gulf businessmen and royal family members, is best known for her advisory role in the purchase of a $6bn stake in British bank Barclays in 2008 by the ruling family of Abu Dhabi.
The Sunday Times report did not name any specific targets, but indicated that the Grosvenor House on Park Lane, as well as the Maybourne Group – which includes Claridges, the Connaught and the Berkeley – might be under consideration.
In December last year, Al Habtoor’s son Mohammed, who is vice chairman and CEO of the Al Habtoor Group, told Arabian Business that the company was looking for further opportunities.
“We are also looking for hotels in Europe,” he said. “We keep looking until we find the right one with the right investment and also the right return on investment at the same time.”
He said the European markets the group was interested in were “mainly London and Paris”, with any deals needing to be acquisitions as new builds in those established cities were “a headache”.
The Al Habtoor Group already runs four hotels in Dubai, and is building another three in a new complex next to the soon-to-be built Arabian Canal in Business Bay. The firm also has two properties in Lebanon and another two in Budapest, Hungary.
Its most recent acquisition was last month’s purchase of the InterContinental Budapest, a deal that was closed with assistance from PCP Capital Partners.