• Four Seasons goes private at $3.8bn

The deal to take Four Seasons private has been approved by the company's board at $82 per share, putting a value of $3.8bn on the company including debt.

There was little doubt about the transaction going through following the announcement of the bid back in November as the company's founder and majority voting shareholder Issy Sharp had said he was entertaining no other offers.

The frothy multiple is around 35 times 2007 EBITDA for the 70 managed hotels in the chain. But despite the price representing a 28% premium to the previous share price immediately prior to the announcement on November 6, it was felt more could have been extracted had Issy Sharp not blocked further discussion.

The fact that Four Seasons share price was almost $2 above the offer price when this week's announcement was made suggests there was expectation of a higher offer.

Instead Bill Gates, through his Cascade Investments vehicle, and Prince Alwaleed, via Kingdom Hotels International, have been able to swoop on the chain.

Sharp is to receive $289m as part of the deal. Triples, Sharp's family holding company, will remain a significant shareholder in the company and he will continue as chairman and CEO.

Following the completion of the deal, which is expected following a shareholder vote in April, Sharp will hold 10% of the company with the remainder split equally between Kingdom and Cascade.

Alwaleed already had 23% and Gates had 8.2%. Gates' previous forays into hotel ownership included Cliveden, which he took private in 1998 for £43m as a 10% shareholder in a consortium which later sold to Von Essen in 2002 for £50m.

Last week it was revealed that Von Essen had paid £50m for a London heliport that will see the creation of 70 room hotel. At the start of the year the company bought its first property outside of the UK with the £17m acquisition of the Chateau de Bagnols.

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