Published On: Thu, Apr 3rd, 2014

Dubai Sovereign Wealth Fund Takes Effective Control of Kerzner International Hotels : Sol Kerzner to Retire as Chairman

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One&Only Cape Town: Opening Party Preparations Continue

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The Investment Corp. of Dubai (ICD), which is the Sovereign Wealth Fund of the Emirate of Dubai, today announced it has taken over leadership and control of luxury hotel chain Kerzner International Holdings Limited (KIHL).

Founded by South African entrepreneur Sol Kerzner the hotel group built resorts in the Bahamas, and also the famed luxury Atlantis palm island resort in Dubai itself.

KIHL today operates globally under the world-renowned One&Only and Atlantis brands, with international presence, significantly in Dubai with three resorts, two resorts in The Bahamas, and more in Mauritius, The Maldives, Mexico, South Africa and soon, Australia.

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Hayman Island , Hotel, Travel, Sol Kerzer

Sol Kerzner/ Hayman Island

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This new strategic move by ICD in the hotel and tourism sector in Dubai follows its acquisition from KIHL earlier this year of full ownership of Atlantis, The Palm resort

In its announcement the ICD only disclosed it had acquired a “significant” stake in Kerzner without further details, however privately reporters have learned it was in the area of 46%, giving it near majority control if confirmed. ICD was thought to have earlier held as much as 25% of the company, so whether the two numbers are additive is not entirely clear. Either way H.E. Mohammed Al Shaibani, ICD’s Executive Director and CEO, will now become Chairman of Kerzner and is clearly calling the shots.

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Hotel, Travel

Sol Kerzner/ One and Only Maldives at Reethi Rah
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H.E. Mohammed Al Shaibani said, “I am pleased to confirm that ICD has completed a major investment in KIHL. The business and its brands are synonymous with the luxury hotel industry, a sector which is of strategic importance to Dubai. He then added, “Furthermore, this investment reaffirms ICD’s commitment to support the long term growth of our domestic hospitality market, a key pillar of, and growth sector for, the Dubai economy.”

The last recession hit Kerzner International particularly hard, and for the last few years it has struggled under a heavy debt load. Indeed Dubai itself also had to restructure some of its own holdings at one point, with help from some of the surrounding Emirates, having expanded very ambitiously in previous years, though only to subsequently bounce back.

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One and Only Maldives at Reethi Rah

Sol Kerzner/ Maldives at Reethi Rah

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Accordingly, by 2012 one of Kerzner’s major creditors, the Canadian asset management company Brookfield, which is led by its Chairman Jack Cockwell, himself also a South African-born Accountant, took ownership of the Bahamas Atlantis by way of a debt agreement. Kerzner also then was reported to have sold 50 percent of the Dubai hotel to Istithmar World, a unit of Dubai World, Dubai’s state owned industrial holding company for US$250 million.

ICD then finally acquired full ownership of the visionary Dubai Atlantis on the Palm Jumeirah artificial island earlier this year, from Kerzner it said today. With today’s transaction it is now taking effective management control of the hotel group’s operations as well it seems.

ICD purchased its new stake in the company from founder Sol Kerzner, and his family, and from other institutional investors. Istithmar World, and affiliates of investment banking group Goldman Sachs and Colony Capital, which is led by founder Tom Barrack, will continue to have significant holdings in Kerzner as well.

While today’s news must be bitter indeed for Sol Kerzner, the long struggle to hold his group together is at least now over. Accordingly, he said “This is a significant milestone in my life after a long and happy career in the tourism industry and I wish the company well,” adding, “I am confident that with ICD’s guidance, the company will fulfill on its upcoming expansions towards further growth and global reach.”

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Hotel, Travel

Award Winning - Maldives Spa

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Dubai’s continued commitment to tourism has been emphasized by this acquisition and ICD will continue to grow the luxury chain. As H.E. Mohammed Al Shaibani pointed out, “ICD sees enormous potential in expanding the KIHL footprint,” adding also, “as incoming investors, we are fortunate to have KIHL’s management team with a track record for success under the leadership of Alan Leibman, KIHL’s Chief Executive Officer, who will continue to oversee the company’s global expansion through multiple projects, including the new Atlantis resort in China, and four new One&Only resorts currently under development around the globe.”

About Sol Kerzner

Solomon (Sol) Kerzner, who today is 77 years old, is a South African accountant and business entrepreneur. He was born in Johannesburg, as the youngest of four children to Russian Jewish immigrants. His family started a hotel chain and, after graduating as a Chartered Accountant, Kerzner took over the running of the group and went on to create the most successful hotel group in South Africa, Sun International.

Until today’s transaction he has been the founder and Chairman of Kerzner International Hotels and his career spans more than 45 years in the resort industry. He originally founded both of South Africa’s largest domestic hotel groups and has played a pivotal role in the development of the tourism industries of South Africa, Mauritius, The Maldives, Dubai and The Bahamas.

The Kerzner International chain of luxury resorts today operates under the “One&Only” and the “Atlantis” brands, with properties in the Bahamas, Dubai, the Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico and Cape Town. More are planned for additional countries as well with Australia and China are already coming along.

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DUBAI

One&Only The Palm

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