Having trouble locking down enough equity or a fat acquisition loan for your first splashy Manhattan investment play? To hell with banks and funds — why not just do a simple $375 million cryptocurrency offering and get the deal done already?
That’s what Shahal Khan and a group of investors under the banner of “Chimera” want to do en route to buying the majority stake in the Plaza Hotel, according to a CNBC report.
The news website reported that Khan and company are floating a securitized token called “Plaza Token,” but that a deal has not yet been finalized. The group is in talks with the Plaza’s majority owner, Subrata Roy’s Sahara Group. “No funds have been raised as of yet, and there is no guarantee that an ICO would be successful,” CNBC noted.
A $375 million cryptocurrency offering for a single real estate asset is unprecedented. The largest known property deal completed entirely with Bitcoin, for example, is a $6 million mansion in South Florida.
A person affiliated with the Chimera Group who did not wish to be named disputed aspects of the CNBC report, however, telling The Real Deal the crypto-raise is “something perhaps to consider in the future but any transaction [at the Plaza] will be funded with traditional financing first.”
The cryptocurrency market is marked by extreme volatility and is fertile ground for “pump-and-dumps” and other securities schemes, which have attracted rising regulatory scrutiny from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. In December, the most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, lost 30 percent of its value in a single day.
Minority stakes in the Plaza Hotel are owned by Ashkenazy Acquisition and Kingdom Holding, which is controlled by no-longer-imprisoned Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal. Qatari investor and former prime minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber al-Thani, also known as HBJ, acquired debt on the building last year.
Khan has been well known to be in the hunt for the Plaza for years now.