Tuesday, October 26News That Matters

The name’s Ambani: Indian tycoon buys UK hotel used in Bond films

Reliance Industries to buy UK’s 900-year-old Stoke Park estate for $79m, adding to the group’s hospitality assets.

Reliance Industries Ltd., controlled by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, bought Stoke Park Ltd. for $79 million, adding an iconic locale that’s been the setting for two James Bond films to its portfolio of tourism properties.

A wholly owned unit of Reliance Industries will buy Stoke Park, which owns and manages a hotel, sports and leisure facilities in Buckinghamshire, for 57 million pounds ($79 million), said an exchange filing late Thursday. The acquisition will add to Reliance’s consumer and hospitality assets, the filing said.

The property’s rolling golf course has been famous since James Bond played a game with Auric Goldfinger there in the 1964 blockbuster. Since then, the estate with the Georgian-era mansion set in the midst of 300 acres of parkland has also been a backdrop in productions like “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and Netflix Inc.’s British Royal Family drama “The Crown”.In real life, its 49 luxury bedrooms and suites, 27-hole championshop golf course, 13 tennis courts and 14 acres of private gardens attracts wealthy tourists from across the world.

The latest marquee acquisition for Ambani’s retail-to-refining conglomerate marks its pivot toward consumer offerings and yet another high-profile British brand purchase. Reliance bought struggling U.K.-based toy store chain Hamleys in 2019 and is seeking to revive it.

Flush with $27 billion in fresh capital after selling stakes in Reliance’s retail and digital units last year, Ambani is helming a transformation as he seeks to build consumer services into a equal-sized pillar for Reliance Industries, paring dependence on profits from its traditional oil refining business. Acquiring marquee global brands underscores that strategy.

Private Gardens

Although the Stoke Park estate has a recorded history of over 900 years, it was used as a private residence until 1908, according to its official website.

Ambani has a net worth of $71.5 billion, making him the 13th richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The group “will look to enhance the sports and leisure facilities at this heritage site,” Reliance said in the filing. Ambani’s conglomerate has equity holding in EIH Ltd., which runs the chain of five star Oberoi Hotels.

The U.K. is emerging as a real estate hotspot for wealthy Indians. Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of the Serum Institute of India Ltd. — the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world — agreed to rent a property in Mayfair for about 50,000 pounds ($69,300) a week, a record for the exclusive London neighborhood, Bloomberg reported last month.