Saudi business tycoon sees opportunity in debt-ridden Europe

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Saudi industrialist Sheikh Mohamed bin Issa al-Jaber plans to extend his portfolio of European luxury hotel holdings as the region’s debt crisis presents itself as an opportunity for investors.

Al Jaber, whose JJW Hotels & Resorts Ltd owns various renowned properties including the Grand Hotel Wien in Vienna and the Hotel Balzac in Paris, says his focus will be on four and five star luxury hotels, reported Zawya on Wednesday.

“We are looking at a lot of opportunities in Europe, including in Portugal,” al-Jaber, 54, said in an article published in Bloomberg.

“Where there are difficulties, there will always be opportunities,” he stated.

“Since 2012, JJW has invested globally more than $400 million,” he said. “I can’t tell you the amount we plan to invest in new acquisitions because that will depend on the opportunities that become available to us.”

Al Jaber is currently the 150th richest person in the world according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, he has a net worth of $7.8 billion as of March 8.

As part of his new strategy, al-Jaber may sell some smaller assets such as budget hotels that do not fit with the group’s aim of investing solely in luxury properties, he stated.

The plans to buy up properties in Europe’s debt stricken market showcase a very different strategy to fellow country man Prince al-waleed bin Talal, reported Forbes.

Talal has embarked upon a coordinated program of selling his international-hotel holdings in the wake of the financial crisis. For example, in 2012 his Saudi-listed Kingdom Holding Co. announced that it had sold the Four Seasons Toronto for roughly $145 million. In March 2012 the Prince was reported to have sold his stake in the historic Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, supposedly for the sum of $200 million.

At the time Kingdom Holding was in the process of selling all the hotel stakes held by Kingdom Hotel Investments. Kingdom Holding acquired Kingdom Hotel Investments in mid-2010.

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