Al Habtoor Group and Hilton Worldwide have signed an agreement that will see Hilton take management control over Al Habtoor’s two hospitality properties in Lebanon:

Monday’s announcement [by both companies] will […] see Hilton Worldwide take over the management of two Beirut properties owned by Al Habtoor, marking the US chain’s first entry into the Lebanese market.

The company will convert and manage the Habtoor Grand and Metropolitan Palace in Beirut. Both properties are expected to open [under new management] in early 2012.

Al Habtoor’s exit is no surprise as Khalaf Al Habtoor, Chairman of Al Habtoor Group, has on multiple occasions made it clear that the investment environment in Lebanon is poor. Here he is in 2007 referring to the constant political bickering in the country:

“Due to the continuing unfriendly investment climate in Lebanon, a number of Arab and Lebanese investors have approached me to join them in suing the State of Lebanon before the UNICITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) or ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes). I have used my personal leverage to persuade them to hold back, believing that the prevailing state of affairs would change. But in all honesty, how long can I continue to do this. Are things really going to improve to a satisfactory level in the in the near future?”

The Metropolitan Palace and Habtoor Grand (not shown) will fall under Hilton management by early-2012.

The Metropolitan Palace and Habtoor Grand (not shown) will fall under Hilton management by early-2012.