Posted on December 13, 2014

A firm owned by the Gulf emirate of Qatar has acquired a 50 percent stake in London's legendary Savoy Hotel, its Saudi-based partner said on Thursday, said Middle East Eye. Katara Hospitality Company purchased its share of the hotel, formally known as Fairmont Hotel the Savoy, from Lloyds Banking Group in 2005. 

Between 2008 and 2010, the hotel underwent a $360 million renovation during which time its 268 rooms were closed, according to an Arabian Business report. KHC, 95 percent owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, owns the other 50 percent of the Savoy. The transaction "further solidifies the strategic partnership" between Alwaleed and the Qatari government through KHC, the Saudi firm said. KHC owns 35 percent of Fairmont Raffles Holdings International Hotels Company in partnership with the Qatar Investment Authority.

The Savoy purchase comes as the Qatar Investment Authority, the country's sovereign wealth fund, continued its bid with Canadian property company Brookfield Property Partners this week to purchase Canary Wharf, London's landmark office quarter.

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Home to royalty, stars

Built in 1889, the Savoy was London's first luxury hotel and became home to Hollywood stars including Charlie Chaplin and Frank Sinatra. It was also where Queen Elizabeth II, then a young princess, was first seen in public with her future husband, Philip. Then-prime minister Winston Churchill held meetings at the hotel's Savoy Grill during World War II. Alwaleed's diversified KHC also has investments in other luxury hotels including The Plaza, New York, and George V in Paris.

Katar Hospitality, which owns properties in Qatar, Egypt, Morocco as well as in Europe and Asia, is owned by Qatar Holding LLC which was founded by the Qatar Investment Authority. QIA owns significant stakes in British supermarket chain Sainbury's and the London Stock Exchange, as well as half of the Olympic Village aparments, Harrods department store and the Shard, Europe's tallest skyscraper.