Reliance’s Mukesh Ambani buys UK hotel and golf course featured in ‘Goldfinger’

STOCK Mukesh Ambani
Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries now seems to have a preference for British buys.
Image Credit: Reuters

Mumbai: Reliance Industries Ltd., controlled by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, bought Stoke Park Ltd. for 57 million pounds ($79 million).

The UK-based firm, which owns a hotel and golf course, will add to Reliance’s consumer and hospitality assets, Reliance said in a filing. Ambani, who is also Asia’s richest person, is looking to pivot his oil-reliant business toward consumer offerings.

In recent years he has bought iconic British toy store Hamleys and has quickly become India’s biggest telecom operator by subscribers since starting services in 2016. Facebook Inc., Google and a clutch of private equity and sovereign wealth funds have invested more than $25 billion into his businesses betting on their success.

Background for movies

The property’s rolling golf course has been famous since James Bond played a game with Auric Goldfinger there in the 1964 blockbuster. Since then, the estate with the Georgian-era mansion set in the midst of 300 acres of parkland has also been a backdrop in productions like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Netflix ‘s British Royal Family drama The Crown. In real life, its 49 luxury bedrooms and suites, 27-hole championshop golf course, 13 tennis courts and 14 acres of private gardens attracts wealthy tourists – including the Ambani family themselves – from across the world.

Flush with $27 billion in fresh capital after selling stakes in Reliance’s retail and digital units last year, Ambani is helming a transformation as he seeks to build consumer services into a equal-sized pillar for Reliance Industries, paring dependence on profits from its traditional oil refining business. Acquiring marquee global brands underscores that strategy.

Been around

Although the Stoke Park estate has a recorded history of over 900 years, it was used as a private residence until 1908, according to its official website. 

Ambani has a net worth of $71.5 billion, making him the 13th richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The group “will look to enhance the sports and leisure facilities at this heritage site,” Reliance said in the filing. Ambani’s conglomerate has equity holding in EIH Ltd., which runs the chain of five-star Oberoi Hotels.

The UK is emerging as a real estate hotspot for wealthy Indians. Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India Ltd. – the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world – agreed to rent a property in Mayfair for about 50,000 pounds ($69,300) a week, a record for the exclusive London neighborhood.