UK hotel investor Faber joins bidding for Anbang portfolio

  • Business
  • Thursday, 11 Jul 2019

SHANGHAI: Richard Faber, a former lieutenant to the United Kingdom’s billionaire Barclay twins, is fronting an investor group that’s competing for a luxury hotel portfolio owned by Anbang Insurance Group Co, sources said.

A consortium backed by the British investor’s Spartan Advisors Ltd is among bidders that were shortlisted to make binding offers for the collection of 15 properties, according to the sources. Spartan has been seeking financing from sovereign wealth funds and wealthy individuals to back the offer, a source said.Anbang bought the properties’ owner, Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc, from Blackstone Group LP for about US$5.5bil in 2016. The deal was part of a buying binge that made Anbang synonymous with China’s unbridled appetite for international trophy assets. The spree ended when Chinese authorities seized control of Anbang and later sentenced chairman Wu Xiaohui to 18 years in prison.

The portfolio has also drawn interest from suitors including Brookfield Asset Management Inc, Bloomberg News reported in May. Hotels in the collection include the Westin St Francis in San Francisco, the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, the JW Marriott Essex House in New York and the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Faber founded Spartan in 2018 after nearly two decades doing deals for UK brothers David and Frederick Barclay, who control the owner of the Telegraph newspaper as well as a string of retail and real estate assets. Faber was also previously married to Frederick Barclay’s daughter.

London-based Spartan identifies, executes and manages investment opportunities in the luxury hotel sector on behalf of clients, according to its website.

Last year, Spartan worked on a deal for the five-star Beaumont Hotel in London’s Mayfair district and advised on a refinancing for the owner of the Ritz Hotel, London. This year, it advised City Developments Ltd on its takeover bid for Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Plc.

No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the parties will reach an agreement, the sources said. An official at Spartan declined to comment. The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, Anbang’s ultimate custodian, didn’t reply to a request for comment.Over one trillion yuan (US$145bil) of Anbang assets have been or are being stripped as the company trims non-core financial licences and overseas assets that don’t have strong synergies with its main business of insurance, CBIRC vice-chairman Liang Tao said. — Bloomberg

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