Investors Bid to Take Four Seasons Chain Private

An offer to take the Four Seasons luxury hotel chain private is being backed by Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment company. The two are poised to take the company private, along with controlling shareholder Triples Holdings Limited, for $3.7 billion.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And speaking of Microsoft, Bill Gates and a partner are poised to take ownership of the Four Seasons Hotel chain. An investment firm owned by Gates and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal are backing a nearly $4 billion bid by the hotel chain's founder to take the company private.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

WENDY KAUFMAN: Bill Gates and the Saudi prince have had business dealings before. In this case, the deal would give each of them a 45 percent stake in the company. Isadore Sharp - who founded the hotel chain and who will remain chairman and CEO - would retain a 10 percent stake. While Gates and his Cascade Investment Company are newcomers to the hotel business, the Saudi prince is not. He's already a major investor in the Four Seasons, and earlier this year bought the Fairmont Hotel chain.

William Mack, an equity analyst at Standard and Poor's, generally likes the deal. High-end hotels, he says, produce profits and a steady cash flow, while requiring relatively capital.

Mr. WILLIAM MACK (Equity Analyst, Standard and Poor's): In a business that is very much, you know, your reputation matters, it's tough to get the kind of reputation globally that Four Seasons has. And, you know, they can stamp their name on hotel and it's very likely to be profitable.

KAUFMAN: The $82 per share bid represents a substantial premium over the stock's closing price last Friday.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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