Chinese investors negotiate Hilton sale

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 29/05/2014

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Queenstown's Hilton Hotel has reportedly been sold to Chinese investors encouraged by the numbers of wealthy Chinese flocking to the resort.

The National Business Review has reported that The Hilton's current owner, powerhouse Asia and Pacific Rim hedge funder, the Pacific Alliance Group, was negotiating a sale of the hotel on the base of the Kelvin Peninsula to a group of Chinese investors.

Hilton general manager Chris Ehmann said he was not able to comment on any deal because the Hilton was a management company that did not generally own the hotel asset it ran.

The luxurious 177 room hotel had a troubled genesis that has blossomed into a success story for the Hilton's southernmost hotel in a stable of thousands globally.

The hotel was originally slated to be part of the Starwood-Westin Group, and the site on the shore of Lake Wakatipu was originally intended for two more hotels plus apartment blocks.

Construction started in early 2007 under Auckland property developer Nigel McKenna's Melview Developments and Melview Investment companies.

McKenna's bruising bankruptcy which was a legacy of the initially troubled deal only ended this April.

By May 2009 stage one was in receivership, and by late 2010 all three stages were in the same predicament.

The Bank Of Scotland bankrolled the project to the tune of around $500 million in a first mortgage, and British investor BlueSky Capital was given permission from the Overseas Investment Office in July 2007 to invest $300m in the project.

Pacific Alliance Group took over debts in 2011. The company has three offices in China, and offices in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore and Sydney.

The company's website says it is "one of Asia's largest alternative investment management firms managing a diverse array of funds in private equity, real estate and absolute return strategies. With over US$10 billion in funds under management."

An employee in the Hong Kong office said he could not comment on the Hilton deal.

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- The Southland Times

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