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Saudi Kingdom Group Upgrades Hotels | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi Arabian tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom group said on Monday it is upgrading and expanding luxury hotels in Singapore and London, amid reports the hotels were up for sale.

Kingdom Holding, one of the country’s richest investment groups, said in a statement that it has obtained permission to expand its top-end Raffles Singapore Hotel with up to 78 new rooms.

It said it is also putting its Savoy Hotel in London through a 118 million pound (175 million dollar) renovation, with plans to reopen the luxury property in late 2009.

The statement came after The Times newspaper of London reported that Prince Alwaleed, who controls 95 percent of Kingdom, was planning to sell off the properties to raise cash against investment losses in the past year.

Kingdom did not specifically deny the report.

But it said that Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, through which Kingdom controls the Raffles hotel, “is an integral part of (Kingdom’s) diverse hotel portfolio.”

Fairmont, it added, will manage the Savoy wh/.en the hotel reopens.

On March 2 Kingdom announced it had sold its 50 percent stake in the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva for a net gain of 60 million dollars.

Kingdom has raised some 822 million dollars from the sale and refinancing of hotel assets around the world since 2007, according to the company.

One of the world’s wealthiest businessmen, Alwaleed is believed to have taken large paper losses on Kingdom’s five percent stake in troubled US banking giant Citigroup.

In January Kingdom reported a net loss of some eight billion dollars for the three months to December 31, compared to a profit of 68.2 million dollars a year earlier.