After acquiring Virgin Nigeria Airways which he renamed Air Nigeria, the maverick young Nigerian billionaire Jimoh Ibrahim is the only African who has shown interest to acquire the Cumberland Hotel, a four star hotel in the heart of London, the capital of Britain.
Jimoh Ibrahim who is said to have made substantial commitments for the hotel few years ago has vast interest in hospitality industry as the owner of some star hotels in Nigeria including Nicon Luxury Abuja, Nicon Hotel Lagos and others in some state capitals including Port-Harcourt, Calabar and Akure.
According to the Economic Confidential findings other business magnets from Asia, Middle East and America have indicated interest for the Cumberland hotel. Those so far being named include Malaysian investor, Quek Leng Chan; Indian hotelier, Gulshan Bhatia and Singapore magnet, Kwek Leng Beng.
The hotel which has more than 1000 luxury bed rooms, suites and apartments with 26 conference rooms and gym, was the first hotel in London to have telephone in each room after its construction in the 1920s.
It was put for sale by the Royal Bank of Scotland for a £220mn asking price due to a distressed loan as the bank is making efforts to get rid of its non-core assets.
Attempts by Economic Confidential to track and speak to Jimoh Ibrahim were unsuccessful as he was shuttling between Nigeria and London on weekly basis in the last few months.
With the largest ownership in the NICON insurance and Nigeria Re-insurance with businesses in the oil sector and properties, Jimoh Ibrahim after acquiring Virgin Nigeria Airline for$250mn, also recently paid $6.5mn to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc for full and final settlement of indebtedness of Virgin Nigeria to the bank. He has taking over the controlling share of the Virgin Nigeria from the British billionaire, Richard Branson.
He disclosed that his company would acquire more aircrafts to make it ten by October 1,2010 while creating more jobs and guaranteeing the security of the jobs of the existing personnel.
He said the Air Nigeria will build its operations on enduring timeless principles of loyalty, customers’ confidence which it will earn through establishment of commitment to service delivery. He added that the rationale for adopting the new identity for the airline was informed by the desire to have an airline that reflects the culture of Nigeria, as a country that deserves a viable carrier, that reflects the Nigerian identity, as well as safeguard the integrity of the country.