Jacksonville Jaguars owner acquires Four Seasons Toronto

While his Jacksonville Jaguars were in London over the weekend taking care of the Indianapolis Colts, Shahid Khan, who acquired the franchise in 2012, was taking care of some other business closer to home.

The Pakistani-American businessman, who also owns London soccer club Fulham, has acquired The Four Seasons Toronto from Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Company for CND $225 million or USD $171.3 million. 

Earlier this year, Kingdom Holding announced plans to sell the hotel, and was seeking as much as CND $250 million for the property. At the time, the asking price would have made the deal one of the most expensive ever for a Canadian hotel.

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In all, Kingdom said it had made a profit of CND $17 million from the sale of the hotel, which it bought four years ago for CND $200 million.

“Kingdom continues to be a stakeholder in this asset through our interest in the management company Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, which will continue to operate the hotel,” Prince Alwaleed said in a statement.

The prince owns 95 percent of Kingdom, a global investor with shares in the Euro Disney theme park, Apple, News Corporation and the US banking giant, Citigroup. The company also owns several other luxury hotels, including the George V in Paris.

Prince Alwaleed has a long history with Four Seasons. Kingdom owns a 47.5-percent stake in the company, while another 47.5 percent is owned by Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment.  The remaining 5 percent is owned by Four Seasons founder Isadore Sharp. The three acquired the Four Seasons for USD $3.8 billion when the company was taken private in 2007.

As of 2015, Alwaleed, according to Bloomberg, was the richest person in Saudi Arabia and his wealth, as of 2015, had risen by $3.4 billion. As of 2015, Alwaleed is the world’s 20th richest person with $30.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Closer to Home

Khan is no stranger to real estate development and hospitality. In February of last year, Khan unveiled his vision for the abandoned 48-acre Jacksonville Shipyards, transforming it into a mixed-use development with public park space, a river walk and the potential for residential, office, retail, restaurants, a hotel and a marina.

"It's going to take some time. There could be a couple projects here and there. One building could be a two-year design. Khan set the vision and we're just trying to be his hand," said architect Ben Stindt, senior project designer at Populous.

At the time, Khan said he was looking to partner with the city in the project. His involvement as reported would be through Iguana Investments, a limited liability corporation which Jaguars President Mark Lamping is manager of.

But nearly a year after the initial announcement, talks are still ongoing. According to local media outlet WOKV, there hasn’t been much visible progress with the redevelopment plan.

Paul Harden, who works with the Jaguars on this and many other projects, told WOKV that talks have been ongoing and productive, but “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And we’re running every day,” he said.

One of the holdups has been the completion of an environmental assessment that found widespread contamination at the Northbank site.

The city reportedly "has several million dollars set aside for the environmental clean-up, but the clean-up itself won’t begin until there’s an exact site plan." 

In regard to a hotel project on the spot, Harden put it this way: "Whether or not a five-star hotel were to go up at that location would depend on whether or not you can fill it up at the price to support a hotel."

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