Corsstree News - The Westbury

Cola pops out refi for £1.5bn London portfolio

Cola Holdings has refinanced its £1.5bn West End portfolio through a series of fresh financing deals, with a diverse collection of lenders including J Safra Group backing the family office, React News can reveal.

The property investment vehicle of the Cola family, which is headed by Kurdish tycoon Bakir Cola and run by his son Azad, has secured close to £700m of fresh debt for its hotel and retail assets in London as well as a new corporate facility.

J Safra Group, the international network of companies controlled by the Safra family, has written a senior facility of around £150m+ secured against the Holiday Inn London – Kensington High Street. This marks a move into the UK credit space for Safra, which also owns the Gherkin office building in the City.

The Westbury Hotel, a jewel in Cola’s West End platform, has been refinanced by HSBC with a senior facility north of £200m. Cola Holdings is around two years into a £100m refurbishment programme, which will position the asset as one of London’s luxury hotel destinations.

Marriott International has signed a management agreement with Cola Holdings to bring the storied St Regis brand to the Mayfair location.

Cola Holdings has also locked in an unsecured £80m corporatelevel facility from Crosstree Real Estate, which will be used for capex projects across the portfolio.

In the summer, Ares Management Corporation provided a £300m whole loan to inject fresh finance into two Cola assets: the Kensington Hilton hotel and Burberry shop on New Bond Street. “This investment highlights the demand for flexible, creative financing solutions in the current market given rising interest rates and pullback from traditional lenders,” said Philip Moore, partner and head of European real estate debt at Ares back in June, when the deal closed.

The portfolio is valued in excess of £1.5bn, with the senior facilities issued by Safra, HSBC and Ares understood to have loan-value-ratios of less than SOo/o, according to sources familiar with the refinancing processes.


Portfolio background

The Cola family has previously explored various sales opportunities, before securing the multiple refinancing deals.

In June 2020 Savills was instructed by Cola Holdings to sell an investment portfolio in Mayfair. It comprised the 225-bedroom Westbury, the Burberry store on Bond Street and Washington House, a self-contained building occupied by the private members Conduit Club. Offers of around £1bn were sought, but a deal failed to materialise.

Last year Cola considered a £300m sale of the Holiday Inn London – Kensington High Street. JLL was instructed to advise on the future of the 708-room asset, with sale and joint venture partnerships under review, before the process was paused.

JLL’s debt and structured finance team advised Cola Holdings on the refinancing deals.

All parties declined to comment.

13 December 2023 | Chris Borland, James Buckley, David Hatcher | React News