A consortium backed by Nakheel Hotels has bought a landmark London property for £130 million (Dh975m) from the portfolio of the Queen of England, the Dubai World’s investment arm said.
The purchase of the Metropole building and 10 Whitehall Place was made by International Hotel Investments (IHI), in which Nakheel Hotels is the principal shareholder.
The deal was part of a joint venture that includes the Libyan Foreign Investment Corporation. The three companies have since formed NLI Hotels, which will refurbish the West London property, Nakheel Hotels Chief Executive Joe Sita told Emirates Business.
“Each of the parties has been looking for a central London hotel presence for some time. Nakheel Hotels [has] for the past two years been looking for a site in London for a five-star hotel project that complements our other hotels,” Sita said.
“London was a key target for us and it fits our strategy perfectly in terms of having a luxury hotel presence in the [London] market.”
Nakheel Hotels is initially investing about $60m (Dh220m) in the project, a small proportion of its $3bn overall portfolio.
The deal will see IHI refurbish the 400,000 square foot accommodation into a 283-room five-star hotel, along with luxury residential apartments, overlooking the Thames in West End, the monarch’s real estate managers, The Crown Estate, said in a statement.
Sita said he expects refurbishment on the hotel to be completed at the end of 2009, with hopes for an early 2010 opening.
The Crown Estate announced on Wednesday that it had sold the property to IHI after receiving a number of strong bids.
“IHI’s bid stood out from a strong field of competitors with a proposal to refurbish the building rather than rebuild behind the existing façade,” said Charles Gardner, head of office portfolio at The Crown Estate.
“We were impressed by IHI’s track record and are confident they will restore the once grand Metropole Hotel to its former glory,” Gardner said.
The 130-year-old Metropole Hotel was taken over by the United Kingdom Government during the Second World War and became the Ministry of Defence quarters following the war. It has not been occupied since 2004.
“IHI and our partners… are very much looking forward to establishing a presence here in London – as investors, developers and operators of the Corinthia Hotels brand, [and are] eager to become part of London’s vibrant hotel community,” IHI Chairman Alfred Pisani said.
Nakheel Hotels has significant equity investments in Kerzner and International Hotel Investments. One of its projects is The Trump International Hotel and Tower under development on The Palm Jumeirah.
Dubai World in December consolidated its hotel business by transferring the assets of Istithmar Hotels to Nakheel’s hotels arm to create a fully integrated hotel investment company.
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