Why Dubai is ready to pounce on some of Europe’s most famous hotels

Hotels in Capri, Rome and Istanbul for sale as part of debt restructuring

Jan.January 19, 2019 11:00 AM

Clockwise from the top: The Grand Hyatt in Istanbul, the Capri Palace Hotel in Capri, the Aldrovandi Villa Borghese in Rome and Ferit Şahenk  (Credit: Hyatt, Capri, Trovalia, and Wikipedia)

Ferit Şahenk, once Turkey’s richest man and owner of restaurants in New York and Miami, is in talks to sell some of Europe’s most famous luxury hotels to Dubai as part of a debt restructuring, sources told Bloomberg.

The buyer, Dubai Holding, is controlled by the emirate’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The hotels in question include two Italian properties – the historic Capri Palace, and the Aldrovandi Villa Borghese in Rome – as well as the Grand Hyatt in Istanbul. Şahenk sold another hotel, the Villa Magna in Madrid, to a Mexican firm in November for $241 million.

Through his conglomerate, Doğuş Group, Şahenk owns hotels, retail stores, restaurants, construction companies and high-end car dealerships around the world. As Turkey’s recent currency crisis has raised concerns about the company’s ability to service its debt, Doğuş has been selling off many of its real estate holdings.

“We understand Doğuş has a detailed plan to dispose of part of its real estate assets for a total of about 500 million euros in 2019,” wrote Standard & Poors analysts in October while downgrading the company’s credit rating to B-.

Via a subsidiary, Doğuş Restaurant Entertainment and Management (or d.ream), Şahenk is also the owner of two high-end restaurants in Manhattan – the Japanese restaurant Zuma at 261 Madison Avenue, and the “Salt Bae Steakhouse” Nusr-Et at 60 West 53rd Street. U.S. real estate moguls Alex Sapir and Rotem Rosen partnered with Şahenk at both restaurants. Both chains also have restaurants in Miami.

Last April, Doğuş sold a 17 percent stake in its restaurant business for $200 million to the Singaporean government and a London investment firm.

Dubai Holding’s hospitality arm, Jumeirah Group, owned the Essex House hotel on Central Park South between 2005 and 2012, converting more than 100 rooms into condos during that time. The company now has no properties in the U.S., but owns hotels across Europe and Asia, from Mallorca to Shanghai. [Bloomberg] — Kevin Sun

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