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Hotel Bel-Air Reported for Sale; Bought by Japanese in 1980s

April 08, 1994|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

TOKYO — A Japanese company is seeking to sell the Hotel Bel-Air in West Los Angeles, acquired for more than $100 million in the late 1980s during a Japanese buying spree of well-known American properties, a financier said here Thursday.

If the sale goes through, it would mark the latest Japanese retreat from spectacular real estate purchases made in those years. The Japanese tycoon who bought the Pebble Beach golf resort in 1990 was thought to have lost $340 million when he sold it in 1992.

The Sazale Group, which paid about $110 million for the legendary hotel, wants to sell it as part of a restructuring plan, according to an official of the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, which helped finance the purchase.

The official, who asked that his name not be used, said Sazale transferred the title of the hotel in mid-March to HBA Holdings Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of the bank set up specifically to hold the property.

In Los Angeles, a spokeswoman for the hotel initially told The Times that the Bel-Air was for sale, but minutes later called back to say that it was not on the sales block.

Michael Braun, a New York attorney who represents the Sazale Group, said Sazale had received "a few" inquiries from potential buyers before the company deeded the property back to its lenders in March.

At least one large real estate investment company--Los Angeles-based Colony Capital Inc.--has expressed an interest in purchasing the property and reportedly has offered to pay about $50 million for it in recent weeks.

Kelvin Davis, Colony's executive vice president, confirmed that his company is interested in buying the Bel-Air but would not disclose the price Colony would be willing to pay.

However, another investor--music mogul David Geffen--denied published reports that he has also offered to buy the hotel for about $50 million.

"I have not made a bid on the property, nor has anyone who represents me," Geffen told The Times on Thursday. However, he said he would like to see the hotel's financial statements and would not rule out making a bid later.

Sazale stunned investors worldwide when it bought the 92-room hotel in 1989 for a record $1.2 million per room.

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