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Saudi wealth fund takes stake in Rocco Forte hotels

Rocco Forte
The Balmoral Hotel seen through the Waverely station roof (pic: Terry Murden)

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has taken a minority stake in the Rocco Forte luxury hotels group which includes the Balmoral in Edinburgh.

The kingdom’s $700bn Public Investment Fund (PIF) has purchased a 49% stake in the 14-site group, valuing it at about £1.2bn.

The Forte family will retain control of the company and founders Rocco Forte and his sister Olga Polizzi will remain as executive chairman and deputy chair, respectively. PIF will have two seats on the board and Forte family two.

As part of the deal, Italian sovereign wealth fund CDP Equity, which owned a 23% stake, will exit the business, along with four of Mr Forte’s five sisters.

Mr Forte told the FT: “PIF is an excellent partner for us going forward. They share the same vision for the brand and the future strategy of the group with the same ambition to take a long-term view.” 

The fund said it is planning to double the chain’s size over the next five years with new outlets in the Middle East, the US and Italy where it already has eight hotels.

Rocco Forte Hotels plans to open three in 2024 and 2025, including one in Dubai, which will mark the group’s return to the Middle East after its management contract with a hotel in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah ended in 2019.

In the year to the end of April, Rocco Forte Hotels recorded group revenues of £293.5 million, up from £166.5m a year earlier when coronavirus restrictions affected trading.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were £64.2m, against £18.1m a year earlier.

Livingston shopping deal

Property investment companies LCP and Evolve Estates, both part of M Core, have acquired The Centre, Livingston.

Details were not disclosed but it was put on the market last year with an asking price of £70 million.

With 166 shops, restaurants, cafes and leisure amenities, its key tenants include Marks & Spencer, River Island, H&M and Primark, as well as a 100.,000 sq ft Asda store.

LCP previously acquired Bathgate Retail Park, a portfolio of 24 units at Southfield Industrial Estate, Glenrothes; and Drumchapel Shopping Centre, near Glasgow. 

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