Bill Geist’s investment company will acquire a stake in Kingdom Holding of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and Melinda Gates’ ex-husband will take control of the Four Seasons hotel chain, according to world media. The deal is expected to be officially concluded in January.
Gates Cascade Investment will pay $ 2.2 billion in cash. It will thus increase its stake in Four Seasons Holdings to 71.25% from the current 47.5%.
The chain manages 121 hotels and resorts and 46 residential properties. There are over 50 projects in development. Geist’s acquisition of more control suggests that he believes the hotel industry is likely to recover soon from the effects of the coronavirus around the world.
Kingdom Holding will retain 23.75% of the hotel chain. The proceeds will be used for investments and debt repayments. Four Seasons President Isador Sharp will keep his 5% stake.
Bill Gates and Prince Alwaleed have known each other for a long time. In 2017, Gates identified the prince as his significant partner in their charity work.
Four Seasons shareholders made the company private in 2007, when it ran 74 hotels, with Gates and Alualid leading the deal. The new owners expanded the company’s presence in new markets in an attempt to benefit from the then-thriving luxury travel market.
Cascade first invested in Four Seasons in 1997, when it was a public company. The investment firm also manages the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The co-founder of Microsoft is the fifth richest man in the world according to Forbes with assets worth 132.8 million dollars. He is also the largest private owner of agricultural land in the United States. Gates has stakes in AutoNation and agricultural equipment maker John Deere.
Gates and Melinda French Gates officially ended their 27-year marriage last month.
Yesterday, the shares of Kingdom Holding rose by 1.1% and its market value reached almost 40 billion riyals.