Saudi Arabia’s Al Jaber Bids for Stake in Portugal ResortHenrique Almeida
Sheikh Mohamed bin Issa al Jaber is bidding for a stake in a Portuguese golf and beach resort popular with sports stars such as soccer’s Cristiano Ronaldo as Saudi Arabia’s third-richest person seeks to expand his hotel business.
Al Jaber’s JJW Hotels & Resorts Ltd. offered to buy the share of Vale do Lobo resort held by Portuguese state-owned bank Caixa Geral de Depositos as well as loans to the business, Carlos Rocha, chief executive officer of JJW Hotels in Portugal, said in an interview. The company already owns half a dozen properties in the country’s southern Algarve region, where Vale do Lobo is located.
Luis Goldschmidt, a spokesman at Caixa Geral in Lisbon, declined to comment on the lender’s stake in Vale do Lobo or loans to the company. Officials at the resort weren’t immediately available.
Caixa Geral owned a 24 percent stake in Vale do Lobo as of 2011, according to an earnings statement for that year. JJW’s Rocha declined to comment on the value of the bid or the amount of the resort’s debt to the bank.
Sun, sand and golf have long attracted tourists to Vale do Lobo’s villas and two golf courses alongside the Atlantic Ocean. Real Madrid forward Ronaldo spent time at Vale do Lobo before joining the Spanish soccer club in 2009 and John McEnroe is among a handful of tennis stars that have played tournaments at the resort, according to the Vale do Lobo website.
A drop in real estate prices is also attracting investors such as Al Jaber to seek assets in the Algarve, which accounts for one in three visitors to Portugal. Home prices in Portugal fell 3.9 percent in June from the same period a year earlier, Confidencial Imobiliario, a company that collects data on the property market, said Sept. 12.
“Details of the plan to grow the JJW Hotels & Resorts brand in Portugal will be unveiled by the end of the year,” said Rocha.
JJW Hotels owns half a dozen properties in Portugal, including Le Meridien Penina hotel, the first five-star hotel in the region. Its management will be transferred to JJW Hotels from the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. on Oct. 1, according to Rocha. The hotel will be rebranded as the Penina Golf Resort.
Al Jaber started MBI International, which has a net asset value of more than $9 billion, according to the company’s website. JJW Hotels is a unit of MBI.