Four Seasons CEO leads $3.8bn buyout

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The Independent Online

The Four Seasons, a luxury hotel chain based in Canada, has agreed to a $3.8bn (£1.9bn) buy-out offer by its chief executive officer, Isadore Sharp, in partnership with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia and the chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates.

Under a compensation package agreed in 1999, Mr Sharp stands to earn $289m from the transaction, which remains subject to a two-thirds favourable vote by shareholders at a special meeting expected in April.

The chain remains one of the world's biggest luxury hotel operators. It is not related to the venerable Four Seasons restaurant favoured by power-brokers and wheeler-dealers in Manhattan, however.

The slightly surprising pairing of Mr Gates with Saudi royalty can be traced back to a dinner hosted by the Microsoft founder at his home in Bellevue in Washington state in early 2004 at which Prince Alwaleed was a guest.