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London's iconic Ritz hotel sold for below £800m

The famous establishment is at the heart of a spat among the heirs of the British billionaire Barclay twins

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The Ritz is the Barclay brothers' most valuable business, recouping many times over the amount they paid for it back in 1995.

London

THE sale of London's Ritz Hotel by the British billionaire Barclay twins fetched less than £800 million (S$1.42 billion).

Law firm Macfarlanes said in a statement that it advised one of its private Qatari investor clients on the acquisition of the hotel that opened in London's Mayfair in 1906.

''It is a privilege to become the owner of the iconic Ritz Hotel and have the opportunity to build on its innate style and grand traditions,'' a spokesman for the new owner said in the statement.

The Ritz, which occupies a prime frontage in London's St James' district, is at the heart of a spat among the heirs of David and Frederick Barclay.

The dispute became public last month after a court hearing that revealed Mr Frederick Barclay was being secretly recorded by a nephew at the hotel. Mr Frederick Barclay said previously that he had received competing offers in excess of £1 billion and had threatened legal action if the hotel sold for less.

A spokesman for Mr Frederick Barclay said in a statement that the deal appears to have been pushed through in the middle of the coronavirus crisis in the hope that it would not be contested.

''We are surprised and perturbed by the announcement that the Ritz hotel has allegedly been sold,'' he said in the statement. ''We have neither consulted nor have we approved this sale.''

Public filings previously highlighted how Mr David Barclay's sons consolidated control of the five-star Ritz, while Mr Frederick Barclay's daughter Amanda has left the board.

Aidan and Howard Barclay replaced Ms Barclay, who still owned a 25 per cent stake in the hotel, and one of Mr Frederick Barclay's staff as directors across six Ritz businesses, including the hotel's main UK holding company until filings released last Fri day showed them stepping down.

''Neither Sir Frederick nor Amanda Barclay have any relevant legal interest which would allow them to disrupt the sale,'' said a representative for Ellerman Investments, an investment vehicle of the Barclay brothers that owns the hotel.

The 85-year-old twins are among Britain's most discreet billionaires, known for a family compound on a tiny island off the UK's southern coast. They have recently been considering offloading another of their prominent holdings, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

The Ritz is the twins' most valuable business, with the pair recouping many times over the £75 million they paid for the hotel back in 1995.

Their other holdings include delivery service Yodel and online retailer Shop Direct, which has needed funding from the Barclay family to cover claims tied to Britain's insurance misselling scandal.

The Ritz is being sold together with an adjoining property that offers the potential for an extension.

The sales process kicked off prior to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, ensuring bidders were able to inspect the property before travel restrictions were imposed. BLOOMBERG

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