New York’s legendary Plaza Hotel will be partially sold to Sahara Group, an Indian firm, for $570 million, according to Indian media.
The 105-year-old, 20-story luxury hotel is currently jointly owned by El-Ad Properties, an Israeli-owned real estate firm; and Kingdom Holdings, a company based in Saudi Arabia. The property has been managed by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Inc., a Canadian hotel and resort operator, since 1999.
Upon completion of the contemplated deal, Kingdom Holdings, which is the investment vehicle for Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, will retain a 25 percent stake -- down from the current 40 percent -- in the iconic Central Park hotel.
Interestingly, in April of this year, Sahara made an unsolicited $600 million bid for the Plaza – at that time, Kingdom reportedly rejected the deal.
Sahara has already acquired London's famed Grosvenor House Hotel in 2010 and is in talks to purchase some Marriott hotels in the British capital.
Sahara Group is a unit of Sahara India Pariwar, which is based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and has its fingers in many pies, including finance, media & entertainment, consumer merchandise, information technology and even sports (through its ownership of cricket teams, among other ventures).
Sahara (which is not named after the North African desert, but rather after its founder, Subrata Roy Sahara) was once believed to be the second largest employer in India after the national railways.
Meanwhile, the Plaza Hotel has a long and serpentine ownership history.
The most famous hotelier in history, Conrad Hilton, bought the Plaza in 1943 for $7.4-million – it was sold a dozen years later to The Childs Company, a national restaurant chain, for stock valued at about $6.3 million.
In 1988, New York real estate tycoon Donald Trump purchased the Plaza for a little more than $400 million (he compared it to owning the Mona Lisa painting, echoing the sentiments that George Steinbrenner expressed about owning another New York icon, the Yankees baseball club).
However, Trump was forced to sell the Plaza at a significant loss -- for $325 million -- seven years in later, following his divorce from his wife Ivana, who served as Plaza’s president, to Troy Richard Campbell of New Hampshire.
In 2004, Campbell unloaded the hotel onto El Ad Properties, for $675 million. Based in New York, El Ad Properties is a unit of Israeli-based real estate development conglomerate, El-Ad Group.