The Real Deal New York

Activists threaten campaign against Brunei sultan’s Plaza bid

Ruler said to be close to buying iconic hotel for $2.2B

August 15, 2014 04:50PM

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From left: the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah and the Plaza hotel

From left: the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah and the Plaza hotel

Human rights groups and celebrities have been protesting the Beverly Hills hotel to voice their displeasure with its owner, the Sultan of Brunei — and New York’s Plaza Hotel could be their next target.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is said to be close to ponying up $2.2 billion for stakes in the iconic property and two others owned by Indian property firm the Sahara Group, which needs the proceeds to bail out its imprisoned chief executive, Subrata Roy, the New York Daily News reported.

But now activists are piping up, asking New Yorkers to oppose the transaction and saying the property should not belong to a ruler who recently implemented a penal code that authorizes punishments such as flogging and stoning, according to the newspaper. Brunei counts as offenses adultery and same-sex relationships, and groups like the Human Rights Campaign worry that harsh punishments could be meted out to women and gays.

New York-based investment firm Madison Capital Holdings recently entered a $800 million bid for the hotel portfolio, which includes the Dream Hotel Downtown and London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, but the sultan has emerged as the lead bidder, according to the Daily News. [NYDN]Tom DiChristopher

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