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Bill Gates’ investment firm to acquire controlling stake in Four Seasons

Bill Gates’ private equity firm, Cascade Investment, has reached a US$2.21-billion deal to acquire a controlling stake in Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

The transaction, which is expected to close in January 2022 pending regulatory approvals, will increase Cascade’s stake in the luxury hotel chain from 47.5 per cent to 71.25 per cent. Cascade has been a long-standing shareholder in Four Seasons since 1997.

Saudi Arabia-based investment group Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) will hold a 23.75 per cent stake, while the remaining five per cent stake will continue to be held by Four Seasons’ founder and Chairman Isadore Sharp, under Triples Holdings Limited.

In a statement, Four Seasons said that the deal marks a pivotal point in its evolution and indicates Cascade’s commitment to provide the company with resources to accelerate growth and expand its strategic goals.
However, in its own announcement, KHC said it would use the proceeds from its sale for future investments and repayment of part of its outstanding loans.

Signage on the Four Seasons hotel at the Located at the Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA (Photo: Billy Penn)

Founded in 1960, Four Seasons’ portfolio consists of 121 hotels and resorts, and 46 residential properties across 47 countries.

The lodging industry has been impacted by a drastic slowdown in global travel due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. While vaccination campaigns helped fuel a rebound led by leisure travellers, luxury hotels are still lagging behind lower-quality properties, according to data from analytics and marketplace insights company STR.