London Ritz’s Sale Fetches Less Than 800 Million Pounds

(Bloomberg) -- The sale of London’s Ritz Hotel by the U.K.’s billionaire Barclay twins fetched less than 800 million pounds ($997 million), according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.

Law firm Macfarlanes said in a statement that it advised one of its private Qatari investor clients on the acquisition of the hotel that opened in London’s Mayfair in 1906.

“It is a privilege to become the owner of the iconic Ritz Hotel and have the opportunity to build on its innate style and grand traditions,” a spokesperson for the new owner said in the statement Friday.

The Ritz, which occupies a prime frontage in London’s St James’ district, is at the heart of a spat among the heirs of David and Frederick Barclay. The dispute became public last month after a court hearing that revealed Frederick was being secretly recorded by a nephew at the hotel.

Frederick Barclay said previously that he had received competing offers in excess of 1 billion pounds and had threatened legal action if the hotel sold for less.

A spokesman for Frederick said in a statement that the deal appears to have been pushed through in the middle of the coronavirus crisis in the hope that it wouldn’t be contested.

“We are surprised and perturbed by the announcement that the Ritz hotel has allegedly been sold,” he said in the statement. “We have neither consulted nor have we approved this sale.”

Sons and Daughter

Public filings previously highlighted how David’s sons consolidated control of the five-star Ritz, while Frederick’s daughter Amanda has left the board. Aidan and Howard Barclay replaced Amanda Barclay, who still owned a 25% stake in the hotel, and one of Frederick’s staff as directors across six Ritz businesses, including the hotel’s main U.K. holding company until filings released on Friday showed them stepping down.

“Neither Sir Frederick nor Amanda Barclay have any relevant legal interest which would allow them to disrupt the sale,” said a representative for Ellerman Investments Ltd., an investment vehicle of the Barclay brothers that owns the hotel.

The 85-year-old twins are among Britain’s most discreet billionaires, known for a family compound on a tiny island off the U.K.’s southern coast. The two men have recently been considering offloading another of their prominent holdings, the Telegraph newspaper.

The Ritz is the twins’ most valuable business, with the pair recouping many times over the 75 million pounds they paid for the hotel in 1995. Their other holdings include delivery service Yodel and online retailer Shop Direct, which has needed funding from the Barclay family to cover claims tied to Britain’s insurance mis-selling scandal.

The Ritz is being sold together with an adjoining property that offers the potential for an extension. The sales process kicked off prior to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, ensuring bidders were able to inspect the property before travel restrictions were imposed.

Still, some sellers of prime real estate have persisted with sale plans amid the uncertainty, betting luxury hotels in the best locations will have an enduring appeal to investors even in volatile periods.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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