12 August 2007 – The Sunday Times
THE Reuben brothers have quietly amassed a 5% stake in Orient-Express Hotels, the company that owns the eponymous train and some of the world’s most luxurious hotels.
It is thought the financiers have spent several months eyeing up the New York-listed group, which has a market value of $1.93 billion (£953m).
It is unclear what the Reubens’ intentions are, but their stake-building will trigger speculation that they could be considering an offer for some or all of the group’s assets.
Orient-Express, which has been tipped as a takeover target in recent months, owns or runs 39 of the world’s best-known hotels, including Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire, and the Cipriani in Venice. It also runs six tourist trains, including the Orient-Express.
Several other predators are thought to be circling. Derek Quinlan, the Irish property magnate who owns the Savoy and Claridge’s, was recently linked with the business.
Starwood Capital, an American hedge fund, Morgan Stanley and Blackstone are also understood to have checked out the group in recent months. Von Essen Hotels, the British operator, may be interested in Orient-Express’s European properties.
Orient-Express has been seen as vulnerable since the recent resignations, in quick succession, of its chairman and chief executive. The business was spun out of Sea Containers, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The Reuben brothers declined to comment