Cascade Investment LLC buys stake in hotelier

Gates buys 5% of hotel stock

Local investment firm Cascade Investment LLC, owned by Microsoft’s billionaire founder Bill Gates III, has purchased almost 3.9 million shares of stock in Chicago-based Strategic Hotels and Resorts Inc., according to an Aug. 22 SEC filing.

With the purchase, Gates owns about 5.23 percent of the high-end real estate investment trust (REIT). Strategic owns and manages 19 properties representing a total of 8,346 hotel rooms across North America an Europe.

The purchase comes after the REIT downgraded estimates of earnings for 2009, with officers citing the struggling economy, higher construction costs and the drop in group bookings nationwide.

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