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Monday, July 13, 1998 Published at 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK

Business: The Company File

Bill Gates set for Cliveden victory

Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire

Bill Gates, the world's wealthiest man, is on the verge of leading his consortium of American investors "Destination Europe" to the capture of the Cliveden estate, after their main rivals, Goldman Sachs, pulled out of its bid to buy the British flagship hotel.

Only a few weeks ago, investment bankers Goldman Sachs had challenged the £43 million ($70m) bid proposed by Destination Europe. However, talks between Wall Street's finest and Cliveden have broken down, and consequently Mr Gates and his partners seem set to win control of the luxury hotel group.

[ image: Christine Keeler]
Christine Keeler
The Cliveden overlooks the Thames in Berkshire and is famous for the Profumo scandal in the 1960s. The defence minister of the day, John Profumo, used the hotel to meet Christine Keeler, a woman who also had a relationship with a Soviet spy.

The talks were called off because Goldman Sachs was worried that a bidding war would distract from its imminent Wall Street flotation, which could bring the company as much as $175m (£100m).

However, Cliveden's managing director, John Tham, is happy that the deal is close: "We are pleased that the future of the company can now be resolved and look forward to developing the business under the ownership of Destination Europe as explained in the offer document."

If the deal materialises, Mr Gates would gain control not only of the Cliveden hotel, but also the Cliveden Town House in Knightsbridge and the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath.

This move would be a continuation of the American take-over of British hotels, following Blackstone's capture of the Savoy. Cliveden will have to decide if it is to follow suit.

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