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Historic Plaza Hotel sold to Qatari state-owned company

Katara Hospitality's purchase valued at US$600m; Accor's Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will continue to manage hotel

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The Plaza, which opened 111 years ago, is known as the fictional home of children's book character Eloise and has been featured in films like Home Alone 2 and North by Northwest.

New York

A QATARI state-owned company has taken over New York's Plaza Hotel, according to the operator of the historic property.

Katara Hospitality, Qatar Investment Authority's hotel division, completed the purchase on July 2, said a representative for Accor SA, which was told of the ownership change. Katara acquired 100 per cent of the property from its majority owner, Sahara India Pariwar, as well as minority owners Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp, Kingdom Holding Co and Sant Singh Chatwal, according to sources. The transaction was valued at US$600 million, a source said.

Accor said its Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will continue to manage the property.

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The sale follows a fight for control of the Manhattan property, located across from the south-east corner of Central Park. Sahara India Pariwar had been trying to sell its stake for years amid troubles for chairman Subrata Roy, who was jailed and has been ordered by the Indian government to return billions of dollars to investors.

In May, Sahara agreed to sell the Plaza to Shahal Khan, founder of Dubai-based family office White City Ventures, and Kamran Hakim, of New York landlord Hakim Organization. Later that month, Plaza minority investors Ashkenazy Acquisition and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's Kingdom Holding, which have also been trying to buy the Plaza, sued Sahara US Corp for allegedly reneging on an agreement that gives the group the right to match another offer.

A person close to the Khan group, known as Chimera, maintains that its membership interest purchase agreement, or MIPA, with Sahara and Mr Chatwal remains in effect and was improperly cancelled.

Last month, United Capital Real Estate Development Corp emerged as a third suitor for the property when the company sued Mr Roy and Sahara US Corp, alleging they breached an agreement by seeking a separate deal, and fraudulently induced United to enter into contracts, show proof of funds and place money in escrow.

John DeMaio, a lawyer for United Capital Real Estate, said it's not possible for the deal to have closed or the title on the Plaza to have been transferred as United Capital's notice of pendency, hasn't been resolved. He said his client is confident that it has the only valid contract as the other agreements were not signed by Mr Roy, and it's not clear if Sahara representatives in the US have the appropriate authority.

A person close to the seller said the United Capital contract isn't valid because that group never showed proof of funds or paid a deposit. The notice of pendency is likely to be cleared in coming months through a traditional court process, the person said.  Mr DeMaio said his client was in full compliance with all contract terms and the contract is fully enforceable.

The Plaza, which opened 111 years ago, is known as the fictional home of children's book character Eloise and has been featured in films like Home Alone 2 and North by Northwest. Among its prior owners is President Donald Trump, who was forced to sell it over two decades ago as part of a bankruptcy. He also married his second wife, Marla Maples, there. REUTERS