Cascade buys Houston hotel for $140m

Bill Gates’ private investment arm has increased its share in the iconic Four Seasons hotel company, purchasing the Houston location for approximately $140 million.

Kirkland, Washington-based Cascade Investments, the private investment arm of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, has purchased the Four Seasons Hotel Houston from real estate investment group Maritz, Wolff & Co. for approximately $140 million. Representatives from Cascade declined to comment on the financial terms of the transaction, which is expected to close on October 1.

“We have great faith in Houston, particularly with its strong role in the global energy business,” said Cascade’s chief investment officer Michael Larson in a statement. “We look forward to Four Seasons Houston continuing as the local market leader and maintaining its unique position in the Houston community.”

Located at 1300 Lamar Street in the heart of Houston’s business and financial district, the hotel features 404 rooms and suites and 64 rental apartments. The 30-story building was constructed in 1982 and has a Five Diamond rating from AAA. Maritz, Wolff & Co. originally purchased the hotel in 2000 for $75 million.

Under Cascade’s ownership, the Houston Four Seasons will continue to be managed by Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, which is owned jointly by Gates, Saudi Arabian prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and Four Seasons founder Isadore Sharp. In 2007, Gates backed a $3.8 billion management buyout of the hotel chain. Gate’s Cascade and Al-Waleed’s Kingdom Holding each own a 47.5 percent stake in the company, while Sharp’s Triples Holdings owns the remaining 5 percent.

In August, the hotel company announced the appointment of former Prudential Real Estate Investors chief J. Allen Smith to the roles of president and chief executive officer. Four Seasons reportedly made the leadership move in hopes of accelerating the chain’s growth strategy and strengthening the brand.