By Adedapo Adesanya
The fourth richest man in the world, Mr Bill Gates, will take control of the Four Seasons Hotel chain after his investment firm agreed to acquire a stake from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Co, in a bet that luxury travel will rebound from a pandemic-induced slump.
Mr Gates’s Cascade Investment LLC will pay $2.2 billion in cash to boost its stake in Four Seasons Holdings to 71.25 per cent from 47.5 per cent, according to a statement last week.
Kingdom Holding, which will retain 23.75 per cent of the hotel chain, plans to use proceeds from the transaction for investments and to repay debt.
Four Seasons founder and chairman, Mr Isadore Sharp, through Triples Holdings Limited, will retain his 5 per cent stake.
Mr Sharp founded Four Seasons in 1960 and set the company on its path toward global expansion. Four Seasons now manages 121 hotels and resorts, and 46 residential properties in 47 countries complemented by a strong pipeline of more than 50 projects at various stages of development.
Four Seasons shareholders took the company private in 2007, when it managed 74 hotels, with Mr Gates and Mr Alwaleed leading the deal. The new owners expanded the company’s footprint to more markets in a bid to capitalise on what was then a booming market for luxury travel.
It has also expanded efforts to attach its brand to luxury homes, as real estate developers realised that affluent buyers would pay more to live in a condominium or residential community associated with the hotel brand.
The sale is expected to close in January 2022, pending regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.
Speaking, Four Seasons CEO, Mr John Davison, stated that, “As we mark our 60th anniversary and look back on the profound impact that Four Seasons has had on luxury hospitality we also look forward with tremendous excitement and confidence in the future of the industry.
“The unwavering support and partnership of our shareholders has and continues to be critical as we capitalise on growing opportunities to serve luxury consumers worldwide.
“Our company is at yet another key moment in its storied history and the confidence of our shareholders in Four Seasons and our strategic vision help position the iconic Four Seasons brand for continued success.”
Providus Bank, Travelport Throw Weight Behind TravelTank
By Adedapo Adesanya
Providus Bank Plc has joined forces with a travel retail platform, Travelport Nigeria, to support a travel tech company, TravelTank, which is well-positioned to revolutionise the travel industry in the country.
TravelTank, a highly innovative best-in-class online travel agency, was established by a young entrepreneur, Mr Yemi Smith, to make travel planning and booking quick, easy and affordable for everyone.
At the launch of the platform recently, the Managing Director of Providus Bank, a Nigerian financial services provider, Mr Walter Akpani, stated that, “Today, we are witnessing the launch of a product that we believe is going to change a whole lot in how travel business is done in Nigeria and I am happy to say that I am proud to be here as a partner. I strongly believe that TravelTank’s innovative products will support and assist us all in how we plan and book our travels.”
“For us, as a bank, we believe in entrepreneurship. TravelTank and its Founder are examples of what we believe in and why as an institution the bank is willing and ready to support young entrepreneurial minds in the country.
“As Mr Yemi Smith is a young entrepreneur, we know we have many more like him in this country and you can rest assured that Providus bank is here to support you,” Mr Akpani further stated.
Also speaking, the Country Head, Travelport Nigeria, Mr Samuel Akinola, described TravelTank as an innovative disruptor in the travel space whose product offerings are unmatched in Nigeria, assuring that Travelport Nigeria will go the extra mile to support TravelTank.
In his remarks, the MD of TravelTank, Mr Yemi Smith, disclosed that, “TravelTank is a product of exhaustive research on a sector which showed very clearly that even with the array of online travel agencies in Nigeria, end-users still had reservations in purchasing online travel products.”
Buttressing on TravelTank’s smart offerings set to be presented in a highly competitive industry, he submitted that, “As a company, and by God’s grace, we foresee strong growth especially on our B2B platform which allows TravelTank affiliates to sell travel products in a more personalised manner.”
He stated further: “You know initially when the world was hit by the pandemic, demand for travel halted. Thankfully, we are now seeing a gradual month-on-month increase in the demand for travel products and travel in general.
“This coupled with the multiple approved vaccines now available in many countries around the world including Nigeria, makes us more positive for the future. Testament to this is the lessening of travel restrictions around the world. This makes us very excited as we begin our quest in creating travel opportunities for everyone.”
Real Reason We Rebranded Plentywaka to Treepz—CEO
By Ashemriogwa Emmanuel
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Treepz Incorporated, formerly known as Plentywaka, Mr Onyeka Akumah, has said that the rebranding of the Toronto-headquartered shared mobility startup presented an opportunity to align with its Pan-African expansion plan.
He revealed that the company had been looking for a globally acceptable name for the last six months to use in creating the right kind of positive emotions around bus trips on the African continent.
According to him, the decision to change the name of the 2-year-old ride-hailing company was after a thorough deliberation from its stakeholders, partners, and staff members.
“This name change is a result of in-depth discussions with our stakeholders, partners, and staff. After we discovered that the term WAKA can mean different things across Africa, which may be completely different from travel or movement, we decided to change the name from Plentywaka to Treepz which is pronounced as Trips.
“The new name boldly states our mission to provide safe, convenient, and comfortable trips across Africa with plans for our expansion to 6 countries in 2 years on the continent,” Mr Akumah explained.
Adding that the new change better represents the vision of the company which is to establish the largest shared mobility platform across the continent, he said the name Treepz resonates with the experience on road, travelling across cities, within cities, and it gives a cool vibe.
In addition to its new company name, Treepz also released a new company logo which has the inscription of “Treepz” but retained its existing mission statement and “black & yellow” brand colours.
Also, the new brand identity reformation will retain the core service offerings but will be identified with new names which are; Daily Treepz, Travel Treepz, and Corporate Treepz.
According to Mr Akumah, already existing users won’t have to take any action as the new app will be automatically updated to the new Treepz experience in Africa.
Chevron, Gevo Eye Sustainable Aviation Fuel Investment
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
Chevron USA Incorporated, an energy company under the umbrella of the second-largest oil company in America, Chevron Corporation, together with Biofuel company, Gevo, have today announced intent to pursue sustainable aviation fuel investment.
In a press release obtained by Business Post from the official website of Chevron, it was gathered that both companies want to jointly invest in building and operating one or more new facilities that would process inedible corn to produce sustainable aviation fuel.
Hence, this can lower the lifecycle carbon intensity of fuels used in the aviation industry as the new facilities would also produce proteins and corn oil.
The proposed collaboration will see that Gevo operates its proprietary technology to produce sustainable aviation fuel and renewable blending components for motor gasoline to lower its lifecycle carbon intensity.
Chevron, while co-investing with Gevo in one or more projects, would have the right to offtake about 150 million gallons per year to market to customers.
In his comment on the proposed investment, the Executive Vice President of Downstream & Chemicals for Chevron, Mr Mark Nelson, stated that, “Chevron is providing our customers with next-generation renewable fuels that can help them lower their overall carbon footprint.
“This potential investment leverages Gevo’s innovative approach to producing sustainable aviation fuel, complementing other renewable fuels investments we are making as part of our higher returns, lower carbon strategy.”
Highlighting Gevo’s excitement on Chevron’s willingness to co-invest in the project, its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Patrick Gruber, was quoted as saying that, “Chevron’s advantaged market position would allow it to offtake production from this venture, helping to place sustainable aviation fuel with airline customers.”
The proposed investment is subject to the negotiation of definitive agreements with customary closing conditions.
This also includes regulatory approval, as updates regarding the letter of intent can be found in the Current Report on Form 8-K which was filed by Gevo with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on September 9, 2021.
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