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Friday, April 17, 2009

Raffles Hotel for sale?

Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Taal Alsaud, who owns Raffles Hotel, is said to have put the heritage icon back on the market in a bid to offset billion-dollar losses racked up in the financial crisis. -- PHOTOS: ST FILE PHOTO, BUSINESS TIMES, ISTOCKPHOTO

Singapore: THE wealthy Arab owner of Raffles Hotel is reported to have put the local icon back on the market in a bid to offset billion-dollar losses racked up in the financial meltdown.

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud of Saudi Arabia is said to have put a price tag of $674 million on Raffles, the iconic heritage hotel on Beach Road.

London's Times newspaper said yesterday that Fairmont Raffles Hotels International is seeking buyers for Raffles and other hotel assets, despite a severely depressed market.

If true, this is the second time in as many years that the Singapore landmark has been the subject of a sale.

However, the communications manager for Prince Alwaleed's Kingdom Holding Company, which has a controlling stake in Fairmont Raffles, said early this morning that the Prince was not seeking a buyer for Raffles Hotel.

Last May, a proposed sale of Raffles Hotel to a consortium led by former Credit Suisse banker Mark Pawley failed to materialise for reasons that remain unclear. The deal was said to have been tagged at about $650 million.

The hotel is more than 120 years old and gazetted as a national monument.

Built by the Sarkies Brothers in 1887 on the site of a 10-room bungalow, the hotel expanded quickly and its fame grew far and wide, partly thanks to it being mentioned in the works of writers Somerset Maugham and Joseph Conrad.

In 2005, it was part of a hotel portfolio belonging to Raffles Holdings - since delisted - that was sold to US-based Colony Capital for $1.7 billion.

Colony Capital later merged that portfolio with Fairmont's assets to create Fairmont Raffles. Other local assets owned by Fairmont Raffles include Fairmont Singapore and Swiss├»¿½tel The Stamford.

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