The year 2020 may well see a wave of disposals in the Moroccan hotel sector in the midst of the worst crisis in its history. Indeed, after the sale of the Sheraton Casablanca at the beginning of the year and the withdrawal just a few days ago of the wealthy Saudi Prince Waleed Ibn Talal from the Four Seasons Casablanca (luxury hotel he owned through Kingdom Holding Investments), it is the turn of the hotel Avanti Mohamedia to be soon for sale.
This time it will not be the investment banks that will be in the driving seat in “intermediated” transactions as is the case, for example, of the Farah chain which still cannot find a buyer despite the efforts of the advisor Capital Gestion Group. It is, however, a commercial court (in this case the one of Casablanca) that is about to be the sponsor for the auction of this hotel unit belonging to Hôtelière Samir.
This entity is controlled by the highly controversial Al Sheikh Al Amoudi, the Saudi businessman whom Morocco accuses of having been (through his chaotic management and lack of responsibility as majority shareholder) behind the collapse of SAMIR, the only hydrocarbon refinery in Morocco. The latter has been at a standstill since August 2015 due to financial difficulties that proved to be disastrous.
So why the sale today of a property that is not in the direct escrow of SAMIR, which is, for its part, in liquidation since 2016? Quite simply because in November 2018, the Commercial Court of Casablanca decided to extend the liquidation of the Samir to its managers as well as to Hôtelière Samir. For the administrator of the Samir, the sale of the former Amphitrite Beach Hotel Mohammedia, a four-star hotel ideally located on the seafront in the heart of the City of Roses, should bring in net (after repayment of the overall debt), to less than 200 million dirhams. A drop of water in front of the mountain of debts carried by the former public flower privatized in 1997 and which amounts to more than 40 billion dirhams.