Maldives News Beat

US Equity Giant Set to Buy Three Resort Islands

By Jonathan Kearney
October 17, 2019
Photo of US Equity Giant Set to Buy Three Resort Islands

US private equity giant Blackstone is continuing its investment in the Maldives, following a multi-million dollar purchase earlier this year.

Blackstone bought Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in February 2019 for an undisclosed sum, from the land lease owner, Crown Company Maldives.

Now Maldives Traveller has learned that the company has plans to increase its portfolio further with purchase of 3 resorts operated by Anantara Maldives.

The resorts under offer include Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Veli and Naladhu. The Ministry of Tourism has already announced the transfer of lease rights for these islands from the current lease owner, Universal Enterprises, which has requested to transfer their rights to another party.

Blackstone bought Rangali Island after USD 8.3 million renovations, which included the construction of the world’s first underwater villa, The Muraka (The Coral).

Blackstone’s interest in the Maldives goes back to 2013, when the company purchased majority shares in Seaplane operator Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA). TMA operates the world’s largest seaplane fleet, transferring travellers from the Maldives’ main international airport at Hulhule Island to the various resorts across the country, carrying more than 750,000 passengers a year.

In 2017, Blackstone sold 80 per cent of its TMA shares to US-based Bain Capital Private Equity for USD 550 million, the largest business transaction ever recorded in the Maldives tourism.

Buying and selling of tourist resorts is big business in the country. The last such high profile transaction was the purchase of Finolhu by the German company Seaside hotels for USD 90 million in April 2019. The Maldives’ continued popularity as a world-leading tourist destination makes it an attractive proposition for equity firms, and investment interest has remained steady over the past few years.

The resort business is highly profitable and investors can normally recoup their investment and turn a profit within seven to 10 years.