Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has acquired a 49% stake in luxury hotel group Rocco Forte Hotels.

According to The Financial Times, the $700bn fund plans to help the hotel chain double its size in the next five years, with the addition of new hotels in the Middle East, Italy, and the US.

Rocco Forte Hotels was founded by Rocco Forte and his sister Olga Polizzi in 1996.

The group of 14 hotels in Europe is valued at £1.2bn ($1.30bn) and including the debt, the enterprise value stands at £1.4bn, according to people familiar with the details.

Forte, in partnership with Polizzi, will maintain control with a majority stake of 51%.

He will remain as executive chairman while Polizzi will continue as deputy chairman.

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By GlobalData

As part of the agreement, the Italian sovereign wealth fund CDP Equity, which held a 23% stake, will divest from the business, along with four of Rocco Forte’s five sisters.

PIF will invest in the brand’s expansion in existing and new markets using primary equity, leveraging the group’s history of growth and development.

This includes the group’s opening or plan to open eight new properties in recent years.

PIF deputy governor and head of the international investments division Turqi Al Nowaiser said: “Our investment in Rocco Forte Hotels reflects PIF’s confidence in both the commercial opportunity and strength of the international hospitality and tourism industries that have shown remarkable resilience in recent years.”

Forte said: “PIF is an excellent partner for us going forward. We have established an extremely good relationship during the course of our negotiations.

“They share the same vision for the brand and the future strategy of the group with the same ambition to take a long-term view. I look forward to working with PIF to expand the group and improve the high level of service we offer our customers.”

Rocco Forte Hotels plans to open three additional hotels in 2024 and 2025.