Monday, April 20, 2009

STI: Nod given for Raffles Hotel expansion: Saudi owner

April 21, 2009

Nod given for Raffles Hotel expansion: Saudi owner

CAIRO: - Saudi billionaire Prince AlWaleed bin Talal's investment company said yesterday it had secured approval from the Singapore authorities to expand the landmark Raffles Hotel.


Kingdom Holding, which has a controlling 58.1 per cent stake in Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, said in a statement that the expansion would include adding up to 78 rooms.


The announcement came just days after the London-based newspaper The Times, citing unidentified sources, reported that Fairmont was looking for buyers for its remaining hotel assets.


The report last Thursday, which was picked up by some media, also said the prince may be considering selling his stake in the company to offset sharp losses Kingdom Holding accrued because of the global economic meltdown. However, a spokesman denied that the prince is cashing out, according to a subsequent Bloomberg report.


The prince is ranked the world's 22nd richest person by Forbes magazine this year, tumbling nine places from the previous year.


His diverse investment portfolio - which includes banking giant Citigroup, luxury hotelier Four Seasons, computer firm Apple and media titan News Corp - took a big hit as the global financial crisis hammered equity investments worldwide.


In January, Kingdom Holding announced it lost more than US$8 billion (S$12 billion) in the final quarter of last year. That compared with a profit of US$322.7 million for the previous year.


The statement released yesterday did not provide an estimate of the cost or project duration.


The company also said London's Savoy Hotel is scheduled to open later this year following a £118 million (S$263 million) renovation. The statement said the iconic hotel would be managed by Fairmont.



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