The Plaza. Reputation aside, Middle
East investors rank only fourth
among foreign players in the US.

NEW YORK CITY-Want proof that foreign capital is alive and bidding in gateway cities? Just stop off at the Plaza Hotel, where India-based conglomerate Sahara India Pariwar has closed on its purchase of a 75% stake in the landmark. Sahara plunked down $431 million for the 230-room asset, which carries a total asset value of $575 million.

The stake was purchased from El Ad US Holdings, rendering Sahara a partner with Kingdom Holding Co., which retains its 25% piece. Brokers on the deal were New York City-based Solid Rock Advisors, which spoke for the seller, and Blandford Goldsmith of  London. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, which is also owned by Kingdom, will continue to operate the hotel under a long-term agreement.

“This was a great opportunity for the buyer to expand into a key US gateway market with the purchase of such an irreplaceable asset as the Plaza Hotel,” said Solid Rock president Greg Rice in a statement. “The corner of 59th Street and Fifth Avenue is arguably one of the world’s most valuable pieces of real estate.”

Sahara India Pariwar has its hands in a number of industries, including financial services, life insurance, mutual funds, housing finance, infrastructure & housing and print and television news media.

In addition to Fairmont, Saudi-based Kingdom Holdings also has stakes in a variety of properties and companies, including Four Seasons Hotels, Apple, Time Warner, Samba, Citigroup, Pepsi and Walt Disney Co.

While the Saudis have developed a years-long reputation for major international investments, the Middle East generally ranks only fourth in the list of foreign investors in US real estate, according to Real Capital Analytics and Emerging Trends in Real Estate. Canada, Asia and Germany are all placing much higher bets stateside.