End of an era: Hilton finally up for sale, taking with it nostalgic city memories

Hilton Hotel, Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Hilton shut down in December 2022 after 50 years of operations, ending a historic era and mixed rein in its business cycle. 

At inception, the hotel was the tallest building in Nairobi’s CBD and a popular base for international tourists. 

The hotel promised tourists unique city views from its high-rise tower rooms and was a popular hangout for wealthy businessmen and tourists.  

It has 287 rooms - 45 twins, 185 doubles, seven suites, 22 pool rooms and 27 executive rooms.

International Hotels (Kenya) Ltd, owns the iconic former Hilton Hotel

The prime landmark property is located at the heart of the Nairobi CBD fronting four major streets namely Mama Ngina Street, Watalii Lane, City Hallway and Simba Street. 

International Hotels (Kenya) Ltd, the owner of the hotel, is a joint venture between Hilton International, Kenya Development Corporation, and Israeli national airline El Al Israeli Airlines, official data shows.  

“Interested parties should submit comprehensive information indicating their experience, track record and financial capability to undertake the acquisition,” said Knight Frank.  

Real Estate has learned no price is yet to be set for the prime property, which is expected to fetch billions of shillings. 

“There isn’t a reserve price we are providing. We are running an EOI (Expression of Interest) followed by an RFP (Request for Proposal) process,” said Anthony Havelock, head of agency for Knight Frank in Kenya in response to our queries. 

A request for proposal (RFP) is a business document that announces a project, describes it, and solicits bids from qualified contractors for a purchase request. 

The property agency added in a notice interested bidders should provide their track record for similar acquisitions as well as demonstrate their financial capacity to acquire 59.42 per cent of equity in International Hotels Kenya Ltd. 

“Interested parties are requested to submit their Expressions of Interest by email to the parties detailed below. The EOls must be sent to not later than 1100hrs East Africa,” said Knight Frank. 

The government holds its stake in Hilton through the Kenya Development Corporation (KDC). International Hotels Kenya Limited, a private limited liability Company was incorporated in Kenya on 8th July 1966. 

The government has in the past decade struggled to offload its ownership in three luxury hotels, including Hilton. 

The State has a 40.58 per cent shareholding in International Hotels Kenya Ltd, which owns the Hilton. It also held a 33.83 per cent stake in Kenya Hotel Properties Ltd, the operator of the InterContinental Hotel, which also shut down in August 2020. 

The State has been hesitant to pump money into the two luxury hotels, which has seen other shareholders hold back. 

Besides InterContinental Hotel, several top hotels, including Laico Regency, stopped operations owing to the coronavirus economic fallout. 

The Privatisation Authority had earlier retained the services of a transaction advisor to advise on the sale of KDC (formerly ICDC) shares in the International Hotels Kenya Ltd, which owns the Hilton Hotel.