Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has reportedly sold his stake in the Four Season hotel in Damascus to a Syrian businessman linked to President Bashar al-Assad.
The Financial Times cited sources as confirming the sale, which was completed while Alwaleed was still detained as part of Saudi’s Arabia’s November anti-corruption drive.
The buyer was Samer Foz, a businessman with close ties to Assad’s inner circle, according to the publication.
Alwaleed was released from Riyadh’s opulent Ritz-Carlton hotel, used as a luxury prison for those detained in the corruption purge, at the end of January.
He is reported to have handed over assets in exchange for his freedom, like hundreds of other businessmen, royals and government officials that were detained, but has denied any settlement took place.
The billionaire’s investment firm, Kingdom Holding, had been divesting its stakes in hotels long before Alwaleed’s detention.
Reports in January suggested it also sold its stake in the Four Seasons Beirut for $100-$115m including debt and was in the process of a similar deal for its stake in Beirut’s Movenpick hotel.
Sources told the FT that the Damascus Four Seasons transaction generated a larger sum than the one in Beirut.
However, it said the deal could stir controversy given the sensitivity of dealing with the Syrian regime.
Foz is said to have businesses across the Middle East ranging from a water company to transport, cement and contracting, investments in hotels and a gold mine in Turkey.
He uses Dubai as a business hub, according to the publication.