"Richard Caring, known as the 'king of Mayfair' and a renowned billionaire, has initiated the sale of his interest in the famed The Ivy restaurant and its related establishments, valuing the business at an impressive £1 billion.
Since last week, HSBC has circulated marketing documents to potential buyers, targeting The Ivy in Covent Garden alongside the broader Ivy Collection and Ivy Asia locations. City insiders have revealed this strategic move.
Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), a notable player in recent high-profile investments, is among the prospective buyers. PIF's recent acquisitions include a significant share in Sir Rocco Forte's hotel group and a stake in the takeover bid for Heathrow Airport, in addition to owning the Premier League's Newcastle United.
Caring holds a 50% stake in the Ivy group, sharing ownership with Sheikh Hamad Bin-Jassim Bin-Jaber Al Thani, a former Qatari prime minister. Caring, aged 75, retains full operational and voting control despite the joint venture.
Given the recent easing of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the possibility of Saudi Arabia co-owning a business with a Qatari investor seems more likely, though Middle Eastern sources have downplayed the likelihood of PIF's investment.
As of this weekend, Caring has chosen not to comment on the sale.
The Ivy, a cornerstone in London's West End dining scene for over a century, opened its doors in 1917 as a café serving theatregoers. Its name traces back to an interaction between co-founder Abel Giandolini and actress Alice Delysia. When apologising for construction noise, Delysia famously remarked, "We will cling together like the ivy," referencing a popular 1902 song.
Caring, who played a pivotal role in the fashion industry during the 1970s and 1980s alongside figures like Sir Philip Green, contributed significantly to the rise of fast fashion, supplying giants like Marks & Spencer and Debenhams. His venture, International Clothing Designs, was once a major supplier for the high street, boasting imports from the Far East.
Later, after diversifying into the property and acquiring Wentworth Golf Course, Caring took over the group behind these prestigious London eateries in 2005, marking a significant shift in his business focus.
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