The Plaza Hotel stands in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

NYC’s Historic Plaza Hotel Sold to Qatari State-Owned Company

(Bloomberg) -- A Qatari state-owned company has taken over New York’s Plaza Hotel, according to the operator of the historic property.

Katara Hospitality, Qatar Investment Authority’s hotel division, completed the purchase on July 2, according to a representative for Accor SA, which was told of the ownership change.

Katara acquired 100 percent of the property from its majority owner, Sahara India Pariwar, as well as minority owners Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., Kingdom Holding Co. and Sant Singh Chatwal, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified. The transaction was valued at $600 million, one of the people said.

Representatives for Katara Hospitality and Sahara didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Chatwal, chairman of Dream Hotel Group LLC, and a representative for Ashkenazy declined to comment. Accor said its Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will continue to manage the property.

“The Plaza’s legacy of renowned luxury, incomparable service and timeless elegance will continue,” Sandra Pinto Duhamel, an Accor spokeswoman, said in an email.

The sale follows a fight for control of the Manhattan property, located across from the southeast corner of Central Park. Sahara India Pariwar had been attempting to sell its stake for years amid troubles for Chairman Subrata Roy, who served jail time and has been ordered by the Indian government to return billions of dollars to investors.

Previous Agreements

In May, Sahara agreed to sell the Plaza to Shahal Khan, founder of Dubai-based family office White City Ventures, and Kamran Hakim, of New York landlord Hakim Organization. Later that month, Plaza minority investors Ashkenazy Acquisition and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding, which have also been trying to buy the Plaza, sued Sahara US Corp. for allegedly reneging on an agreement that gives the group the right to match another offer.

A person close to the Khan group, known as Chimera, maintains that its membership interest purchase agreement, or MIPA, with Sahara and Chatwal remains in effect and was improperly canceled. Deposits are still held and legal actions are under review, the person said.

A Chimera representative declined to comment.

Last month, United Capital Real Estate Development Corp. emerged as a third suitor for the property when the company sued Roy and Sahara US Corp., alleging they breached an agreement by seeking a separate deal, and fraudulently induced United to enter into contracts, show proof of funds and place money in escrow.

John DeMaio, an attorney for United Capital Real Estate, said it’s not possible for the deal to have closed or the title on the Plaza to have been transferred because United Capital’s notice of pendency, better known as “lis pendens” in Latin, hasn’t been resolved. He added that his client is confident that it has the only valid contract because the other agreements were not signed by Roy, and it’s not clear if Sahara representatives in the U.S. have the appropriate authority.

Contract Enforcement

“We are going to pursue all of our legal rights to enforce our contract, including injunctive relief if necessary,” DeMaio said.

A person close to the seller said the United Capital contract isn’t valid because that group never showed proof of funds or paid a deposit. The notice of pendency is likely to be cleared in coming months through a traditional court process, the person said. 

DeMaio said his client was in full compliance with all contract terms and the contract is fully enforceable.

The Plaza, which opened 111 years ago, is known as the fictional home of children’s book character Eloise and has been featured in films such as “Home Alone 2” and “North by Northwest.” Among its prior owners is President Donald Trump, who was forced to sell it more than two decades ago as part of a bankruptcy. He also married his second wife, Marla Maples, there.

Reuters first reported the sale earlier this week.

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