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PIF buys 49% stake in UK’s Rocco Forte

Brown's Hotel in London. Rocco Forte is expecting a 'lot more business' from the Middle East after the investment by PIF Rocco Forte
Brown's Hotel in London. Rocco Forte is expecting a 'lot more business' from the Middle East after the investment by PIF

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is set to buy a 49 percent stake in British hotel group Rocco Forte with plans to launch new hotels in the Middle East over the next five years.

The deal values Forte’s group of 14 hotels across Europe at £1.2 billion ($1.52 billion) and implies an enterprise value, including debt, of £1.4 billion, the Financial Times newspaper reported, citing informed sources.

Italian sovereign wealth fund CDP Equity, which owned a 23 percent stake, will exit the business, along with four of the group chairman Sir Rocco Forte’s five sisters.

Forte, alongside his sister Olga Polizzi, will retain a controlling 51 percent stake.

“Our investment in Rocco Forte Hotels reflects PIF’s confidence in both the commercial opportunity and strength of the international hospitality and tourism industries that have shown remarkable resilience in recent years,” Turqi Al Nowaiser, deputy governor and head of international investments division at PIF, said in a press statement on Monday.

The Saudi sovereign fund will invest tens of millions of pounds in the group to double the size of its hotel portfolio over the next five years, the report said.

Forte expected “a lot more business” from visitors based in the Middle East following the partnership with Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, the backing of Saudi Arabia will give the business more financial firepower this time, he stated.

Rocco Forte Hotels intends to open three new hotels in 2024 and 2025, including one in Dubai, marking its return to the Middle East after its management contract with a hotel in Jeddah ended in 2019.

Forte said he is planning a trip to Saudi Arabia to look at locations early next year.

PIF will be given two board seats, while the Forte family will have three, the newspaper reported.

In August 2022, PIF and London-based real estate investment firm Cain International invested $900 million in luxury hotel group Aman.

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