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Economic fears hinder sale of Lanesborough

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Speculation is growing that London’s Lanesborough hotel may be taken off the market after a potential sale to Syrian-born investor Simon Halabi hit difficulties.

Last month analysts predicted that the sale of the 95-bedroom hotel, which has been on the market since January, would fall through because the £120m asking price was too high (Caterer, 6 September, page 5).

Geoffrey Gelardi, general manager at the Lanesborough, said he believed the sale to Halabi had “stalled” but that it was not yet dead. However, he did not expect any speedy conclusion. “It is unlikely that anything of this magnitude will be happening in the near future,” he said.

Gelardi said funding difficulties was one problem that had hindered the sale – “Banks have changed their position on hotel investments,” he said – which he blamed on the impact of the US terrorist attacks combined with fears of recession.

Nick Marsh, executive vice-president at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, would only confirm that the deal had not been closed and that the property agent was considering its options, one of which could be to withdraw the hotel from the market.

In contrast to the analysts, Gelardi believed the original asking price had been pitched too low, but he agreed that the economic climate had since changed and that now was not a good time to be selling.

He suspected that the most likely option would be to take the hotel off the market and wait for better economic conditions. The owner of the hotel, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, is under no pressure to sell.

by Angela Frewin

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