Bill Gates buys Saudi prince for controlling stake in The Four Seasons
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Millions of people have eaten HBO Max The white lotus, who follows affluent and dysfunctional guests on vacation to a luxury hotel in Hawaii.
Part of the spectacle were the lavish suites and sprawling infinity pools, filmed at The Four Seasons resort in Maui. With many viewers already skimming through Season 1, a new storyline about tech billionaire turned hotel mogul would be a fitting addition for a later season.
But reality beat fiction Wednesday when Bill Gates’ holding company Cascade Investment acquired a controlling stake in Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts for $ 2.21 billion.
Billionaire friends say goodbye
The saga certainly played out like the erratic plot of an HBO show. In 1997, the Microsoft co-founder first invested in the then listed Four Seasons hotel and resort chain. A decade later, during the luxury travel boom of the 2000s, Gates partnered with Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal to privatize the hotel.
Although The Wall Street Journal described the relationship of the two billionaires as full of feuds over “issues big and small,” Gates supported Alwaleed when he was held at the Ritz-Carlton by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in 2018.
Fourteen years later, Gates is now acquiring half of his former partner’s stake, bringing his own stake in the resort company to over 71%. Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding will keep around 24%, while Four Seasons chairman Isadore Sharp will keep 5%. The cash deal will go through in January, but the property assignments aren’t all that has changed at the resort over the years:
- The Four Seasons operated 74 hotels when Gates and Alwaleed bought it in 2007. That number now stands at 121, in addition to 46 luxury residences and 50 other projects underway. The impending deal values the channel at $ 10 billion.
- Hotels have just had the worst year in their history. There has been a rebound in luxury travel, but according to Bloomberg, mid-rate properties are recovering faster.
Bet on the holiday bug: Despite inconclusive predictions, Gates isn’t the only CEO to bet on the upper crust’s penchant for swim-in bars and stiff-sheet California King beds. Hyatt recently expanded its luxury business by acquiring resort manager Apple Leisure Group, while Holiday Inn owners IHG announced a new collection of “luxury and lifestyle” hotels.
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