Haile Selassie’s grandson buys Ghion Hotel
Ghion 512 mln dollar deal closed
By Groum Abate
Ethiopia’s Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervising Authority(PPESA) has agreed to transfer Ghion Hotel located in the prime corner of Addis Ababa, bordering the National Palace, to Aklile Berhan Mekonnen Hailesellasie, dubbed Prince, i,e. one of the sons of prince Mekonnen.
Prince Aklile Berhan Mekonnen entered a deal with PPEPSA to renovate one of the oldest hotels in Ethiopia with an investment of 512 million dollar to upgrade it to a five star hotel. The investor will own 80 percent of the shares, while the rest will be government-owned.
The prince bought the hotel under his German-based company, Dinknesh, named after his wife.
The prince is involved in various businesses, mainly focusing on financial and stock markets all over Europe. He says he was one of the last sons of Prince Makonnen Haile Sellasie, who was one of the favorite sons of Emperor Haile Sellassie. He further said that it was his wish to buy his family’s property.
In an exclusive interview with Capital, Prince Aklile said that the new Grand Ghion Hotel will be franchised by either Intercontinental Hotels or Hilton Hotels who both are interested.
Aklile is confident about the new Ghion’s future. He says he used to own the Florence Sheraton Hotel and two other hotels in the Italian capital Rome. And hence he doesn’t expect running the hotel in Addis Ababa to be difficult for him.
According to his renovation plan, the current swimming pool will be closed to make way for a new vast five storey, four star hotel. Furthermore, another five star hotel will be constructed where the current Ghion building lies. The new Ghion will have several presidential suits and helicopter-pads to host prominent guests from all over the world. According to the prince, the main entrance of the hotel will be moved to Meskel Square.
Prince Aklile is currently in Switzerland to mobilize money for the construction of the hotel. He says he will return to Ethiopia within fifteen days to start the renovation process by launching an international tender.
According to officials of PPEPSA about seven companies showed interest in the acquisition of the hotel recently, and they selected Prince Aklile’s company among them after evaluating the different proposals.
Constantinos Berhe (PhD), consultant of Dinkinesh, told Capital that the government selected this project because it guaranteed not to shut down the hotel during the renovation, unlike the other interested companies.
Ghion Hotel has been the focus of many high profile businessmen and companies ever since the government invited interested parties to a joint venture a couple of years ago.
The Saudi billionaire Prince Al Wallid bin Tallal was among the first to show strong interest in buying the hotel. Other international companies followed suit in showing their interest in a co-ownership of the Ghion.
The Dhabi Group, which is based in Abu Dhabi and has a large number of subsidiaries operating in the industrial sector of the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, was among them. The Indian investment group TATA International also submitted a business plan to PPESA.
Other interested companies were the Israeli Union Blessed Limited, which is engaged in real estate in Asia, South America and Israel, and SSO Property Limited, a consortium of prospective investors from Nigeria and Dubai, for which Constantinos was also consulting.
The renovation project was expected to refurbish the hotel to a five-star hotel with 250 rooms, a two thousand seat convention centre, a new Ethiopian restaurant, a health and spa centre, 230 apartments, and a mall with a cinema. (Capital)