Plaza Hotel’s Secret Backer Is a Qatari Royal With Big Ambitions

(Bloomberg)—Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has long been associated with New York’s iconic Plaza Hotel, ever since he bought out Donald Trump over two decades ago.

But now, with the Plaza up for grabs, another royal has quietly emerged as a force who could shape the hotel’s future. And that would be Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, one of the most influential figures in Qatar.

Al Thani, it turns out, acquired the mortgage on the Plaza, the Beaux-Arts landmark on the southern fringe of Central Park. That could give him an edge as the fraught sale of the Manhattan property heats up. Alwaleed, who was put under house arrest in a sweeping crackdown in Saudi Arabia, recently sold half of his 25 percent in the Plaza to real estate developer Ben Ashkenazy. Al Thani happens to be a silent lender to Ashkenazy, who has been eyeing an even bigger stake as embattled owner Subrata Roy puts his interest on the market.

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