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Dubai Investment House, Istithmar, Acquires the 280 room
 W Hotel Union Square in New York for US$285 million
Middle East and North Africa Business Report, Amman, JordanMcClatchy-Tribune Business News

Oct. 12, 2006 - Reinforcing its portfolio of high-profile assets in the hospitality sector across the globe, Dubai's leading alternative investment house, Istithmar, announced today the acquisition of the landmark W Hotel Union Square -- a luxury hotel in Manhattan, New York -- valued at US$285 million.

The purchase of W Hotel Union Square is in line with Istithmar's strategy to invest in iconic properties in key gateway cities across the world. The deal also amply reflects Istithmar's investment strategy for the hospitality sector in the US market by targeting prized hotel assets.

W Hotel Union Square marks Istithmar's fifth consecutive acquisition of a renowned New York property. Earlier this year, Istithmar bought the renowned Knickerbocker Hotel at Times Square, 280 Park Avenue, and 450 Lexington Avenue. In November 2005, Istithmar made its first New York City acquisition by acquiring the landmark Helmsley Building, located at 230 Park Avenue. Acquisitions in other gateway cities include One Trafalgar Square, in London.

W Hotel Union Square will join Istithmar's hospitality investment portfolio that will be asset managed by Istithmar Hotels -- Istithmar's wholly owned subsidiary in the hospitality sector.

Announcing the deal, Joe Sita, CEO at Istithmar Hotels, said "W Hotel Union Square is a premier property in one of the world's most recognised locations. This is a unique flagship property that generates cash year after year with significant real estate value. This acquisition reinforces Istithmar's belief in the growth of the hotel sector in New York and is in line with our strategy of investing in luxury hotels in key gateway cities around the world."

Richard Johnson, Managing Director-Real Estate at Istithmar, said: "W Hotel Union Square is an internationally recognized, landmark property in Manhattan. The most fascinating aspects about this property are its location and the business it generates, besides also having significant real estate value. Istithmar's acquisition of the W Hotel Union Square is a strategic initiative that will add immense value to its investment portfolio."

Mr. Johnson added that Istithmar remains bullish about investments in cities such as New York and London, as well as select emerging markets.

W Hotel Union Square is a 270-room luxury hotel located on the northeast corner of Union Square at Park Avenue and 17th Street in Manhattan. Its most striking aspects include the popular Todd English 'Olives' restaurant and a Rande Gerber operated 'Underbar' bar/lounge.

The W Hotel Union Square was the first hotel that opened in Union Square, a neighborhood relished for its fine restaurants, bars, theatres, the famed green market, and boutiques. It is operated by Starwood Hotels, a premier hotel group that owns and operates brands such as St. Regis, W, Westin, Sheraton, The Luxury Collection, Le Meridien, Aloft and Four Points. The Related Companies, L.P. was the seller, and the Multi-Employer Property Trust was Related's participating lender.

W Hotel Union Square adds a new and prestigious dimension to Istithmar's real estate portfolio, which targets assets that have the potential for substantial long-term capital appreciation. Besides gateway cities such as New York and London, Istithmar also considers opportunities in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia.

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Copyright (c) 2006, Middle East and North Africa Business Report, Amman, Jordan

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