Sir Rocco Forte raises £270m for hotel expansion

Sir Rocco Forte's privately owned hotel empire, RF Hotels, will spend £270m to expand the luxury brand across Europe through a new joint venture with the Bank of Scotland.
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Sir Rocco Forte's privately owned hotel empire, RF Hotels, will spend £270m to expand the luxury brand across Europe through a new joint venture with the Bank of Scotland.

The companies will each invest £35m and raise a further £200m in debt to invest in top-notch properties that will be managed by RF Hotels. Sir Rocco plans to expand the chain to 20 sites in Europe's main cities within five years.

"The Bank of Scotland has played a key role in the development of RF Hotels since it sold us our first hotel, the Balmoral in Edinburgh, five years ago," said the 56-year-old Sir Rocco.

"It has provided us with the debt finance, which has helped grow our collection to seven hotels, and I am delighted to extend the relationship."

Sir Rocco was rudely expelled from the Forte empire, which his father had built into Britain's biggest hotel chain, when Granada took control in 1995 after a £3.9bn takeover battle. It ended with Sir Rocco being barred from using the Forte name in business dealings, but he made a dramatic comeback a year later when he borrowed from the Bank of Scotland to buy the Balmoral.

Sir Rocco's hotels also include the recently opened Lowry Hotel in Manchester, along with the St Davids Hotel and Spa in Cardiff and the Hotel Savoy in Florence. He wants a flagship hotel in London. Sir Rocco is believed to be one of Britain's 100 wealthiest people with a £350m personal fortune.

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