Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has purchased a 49% stake in the luxury hotel group owned by Sir Rocco Forte, with plans to double the chain’s size over the next five years. The deal values Forte’s group of 14 hotels across Europe at £1.2 billion, and the PIF will invest tens of millions of pounds to expand the hotel portfolio. As part of the transaction, the Italian sovereign wealth fund CDP Equity, which held a 23% stake, will exit the business, along with four of Forte’s five sisters. Forte and his sister Olga Polizzi will retain a controlling 51% stake in the hotel group.
The PIF’s investment in Rocco Forte Hotels reflects the fund’s commitment to diversifying Saudi Arabia’s economy away from fossil fuels. Rocco Forte, who chairs the group, expressed optimism about increased demand from US travellers and expected enhanced business from visitors in the Middle East due to the partnership with Saudi Arabia. The PIF’s move follows its investments in luxury hotel groups such as Aman Resorts and Habitas.
The deal includes plans to open three new hotels in 2024 and 2025, including one in Dubai, marking the group’s return to the Middle East. The PIF will be granted two board seats, while the Forte family will retain three. Rocco Forte emphasised that, despite the partnership, the hotel business remains at its core a family-run company. The move aligns with PIF’s belief in the “current potential of the hospitality and tourism industry” as it seeks to bolster Saudi Arabia’s position in this sector.