The richest man in Asia has bought an English country club that has featured in two James Bond films for £ 57million, adding a trophy to a global portfolio that includes UK toy store Hamleys.
A subsidiary of Reliance Industries in Mukesh Ambani has struck a deal for Stoke Park, a 300-acre Georgian mansion in Buckinghamshire, which includes a luxury hotel and golf club.
This acquisition adds glamor to the Ambani conglomerate, better known for its Indian energy and telecoms activities. “You can see Windsor Castle from the golf course – it’s a trophy asset,” said Charles McDowell, a purchasing agent.
Stoke Park has been in the hands of the King family, owners of healthcare company International Hospitals Group, since 1988. The family put the estate up for sale in 2018 and originally aimed for a much higher price, according to two. people knowing the sale.
The estate, which has attracted interest from buyers in China and the Middle East as well as Ambani, was hoping to fetch “more than £ 100million,” one of the people said.
Before opening as a luxury country club in 1908, Stoke Park was a private residence. Roarie Scarisbrick, partner of the Property Vision buying agency, said a potential buyer considered converting the 49-room hotel into a house but pulled out because “they didn’t want the reputational fallout. »The closing of the golf club and the dismissal of the staff.
In announcing the deal, Reliance said Stoke Park will remain a members’ club and will “seek to improve the sports and recreation facilities at this heritage site, while fully complying with planning guidelines and local regulations.” .
Ambani considers the property to be good value for money, said a person close to the mogul. “There will be an influx of funding,” they said.
The person added that its proximity to Heathrow meant Stoke Park could be a good corporate retreat for top Reliance executives.
The 27-hole Stoke Park golf course is known to be the setting for “cinema’s most famous golf scene,” according to the estate’s website, in which Sean Connery’s James Bond plays against villainous Auric Goldfinger, in the 1964 film.
A weekend on the course costs £ 225.
Ambani has a net worth of $ 71.5 billion, making him the richest man in Asia, according to Bloomberg data. He inherited Reliance, India’s largest company, after his father’s death in 2002.
The acquisition of the historic property underlines Ambani’s efforts to transform Reliance from an industrial group focused on petroleum refining into a consumer-oriented company with a global footprint.
He has also sought to gain a foothold in prestigious global brands, notably with the Acquisition 2019 UK toy retailer Hamleys for £ 68million.
Under Ambani, Reliance diversified into retail, as an Indian partner of brands such as Marks and Spencer and Tiffany, as well as digital services with the launch in 2016 of the telecoms operator Jio. Last year, Jio raised $ 20 billion from major global investors, including Facebook and Google.
Energy nevertheless continues to drive the group’s income.
In hospitality, Reliance already owns a stake in Oberoi Hotels, one of the largest luxury chains in India and said it is building a convention center and hotel complex in the Bandra Kurla complex in Mumbai, a district stylish businessman from the financial capital.
Chester King, Managing Director of Stoke Park, said owning the estate had been “a great honor” for his family, adding that he was “delighted that the new owners share the same respect for the incredible heritage of the club”.
“It was clear that this represented the status quo for our members, our customers and the local community.”