Four Seasons is to be taken private by its CEO Isadore Sharp with the help of Bill Gates and Prince Alwaleed.
The $3.7bn deal will realise $288m for Sharp personally and puts a value on Four Seasons of 35 times next year’s estimated EBITDA.
There is unlikely to be any other offers forthcoming as Sharp has, in an extraordinary move, already declared that he will look at nothing else. Sharp has 65% of the voting rights at the company due to the dual share structure.
Backing the move are Alwaleed through his Kingdom Hotels International, which already owns 22% of Four Seasons, and Bill Gates’ Cascade Investments, which currently owns 2.2% although the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation owns a further 6%.
Following the conclusion of the deal, Sharp will own 10% of the business through his Triples Holdings vehicle and he will remain as CEO. Cascade and KHI will hold the balance of the shares split equally between them.
There is not expected to be any change in strategy as a result of the deal. Sharp said that he has decided to quit the market to enable an orderly transition of ownership when he retires and his children start selling stock. He said he was passionate about preserving the company in a way that stays true to its mission.