LONDON: Felda Investment Corp (FIC), the investment arm of Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), has acquired a 4-star hotel in the upmarket Kensington area in London for £60mil (RM330mil), making it the 12th investment in the group’s hospitality portfolio.
Called Park City Hotel, with 62 units of guest rooms and two units of three-bedroom serviced apartments, it was renamed yesterday to Grand Plaza Hotel, following the same brand of another upscale hospitality asset owned by Felda, the Grand Plaza Serviced Apartments in Bayswater, London.
Felda had paid £98mil (RM538mil) for the 198-unit service apartment last year. Felda is in the process of transferring this investment to FIC.
FIC was established in 2013, with a focus on real estate, hospitality and oil and gas sectors.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Grand Plaza hotel, Felda group chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad said: “The acquisition of Grand Plaza Kensington is part of FIC’s strategic move to diversify its assets and to ensure that it is able to maximise the company’s investment returns for the ultimate benefit of the stakeholders.”
He added that the new acquisition would complement Felda’s existing property in Bayswater.
“While the Grand Plaza Serviced Apartments’ main appeal is for visitors with family or travelling in a group, the Grand Plaza Kensington aims to attract guests who are looking for a luxury yet affordable accommodation. Moreover, the Malaysian hospitality is next to none and we are confident that we would be able to attract both Malaysians and foreign visitors to stay with us by offering excellent services as well as delicious Malaysian cuisines.”
At a press briefing, Isa said the investment in Bayswater was already showing significant returns. “Maybank is valuing the Bayswater hotel at £130mil (RM713mil) and another international firm has a valuation of £150mil (RM823mil).
“There is also the currency appreciation considering that the pound has strengthened against the ringgit since our acquisition. How many companies that achieve that kind of return in such a short span on time?”
He added that soon after FIC bought Park City Hotel, another offer had surfaced at £4mil to £5mil more than what FIC paid.
“This acquisition is timely as the property market in London is known to be able to yield lucrative returns and this is evident from the increasing interest shown in this market, not only in Malaysia, but from around the world.”
FIC chief executive Mohd Zaid Abdul Jalil added that the Grand Plaza Serviced Apartments enjoyed an average occupancy rate of 90%.
“Malaysia is now one of the most active investors in the UK property market particularly in London. Renowned organisations like the Employees Provident Fund, Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen, Lembaga Tabung Haji and Pelaburan Nasional Bhd have already owned a number of properties.
“FIC is now following suit and making our presence felt in this particular market,” he said.
Zaid added that he was confident that investments in the hospitality area specifically in the United Kingdom would yield sustainable long-term returns, especially looking at the upward trend of UK international visitors, which reached an all-time high in 2013 with 32.8 million visitors.