MSG Sells Tao Restaurants and Nightclub Group to Mohari Hospitality for $550M

James Dolan’s firm could use $300 million in proceeds to fund The Sphere in Las Vegas

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An up-and-coming player in the hospitality industry just got bigger. 

Mohari Hospitality, a Cyprus-based real estate investment firm, acquired Tao Group Hospitality from Madison Square Garden Entertainment on Monday, in a deal that valued the luxury restaurant and nightlife company at $550 million. 

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Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSG), which held a 70 percent majority stake in Tao Group Hospitality, is expected to pocket roughly $300 million in net proceeds from the sale, the company said in a statement. 

Tao’s portfolio includes more than 80 branded locations across 20 cities – including LAVO restaurant and nightclubs in New York, Singapore and Los Angeles; Hakkasan Mayfair Cantonese restaurants in London, Istanbul, Miami and Dubai; Beauty & Essex restaurants in Las Vegas and New York; and a number of namesake Tao restaurants in various American cities. 

Tao Group Hospitality generated approximately $485 million in revenue in 2022, according to MSG Entertainment. 

“Tao Group has grown from an innovator in nightlife to a leader in premium lifestyle and hospitality,” said J. Allen Smith, managing partner of Mohari Hospitality,  in a statement. “Its global footprint of more than 80 branded locations in over 20 markets and best-in-class management infrastructure speaks to the group’s tremendous potential.”  

The deal adds another attractive asset into Mohari’s growing portfolio of luxury hospitality properties. Founded in 2017 by hotel investor Mark Scheinberg, Mohari has already acquired the Peninsula Papagayo property in Costa Rica, a 2,200-acre luxury resort and development anchored by two luxury hotels; a Four Seasons hotel in Centro Canalejas Madrid, the first Four Seasons in Spain; and is an investor in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Miami, an upcoming 91-story, 205-room luxury tower that upon completion will be the tallest residential building in the U.S. south of Manhattan.    

As part of a multiyear separation agreement, Tao Group Hospitality will still retain MSG Entertainment as a consulting and marketing partner. MSG had initially acquired its controlling stake in Tao Group Hospitality in 2017 for $181 million. 

And while MSG Entertainment seems to be downsizing by offloading Tao, the sale appears to be a calculated move on the part of the multibillion-dollar James Dolan-owned conglomerate. 

The New York Post reported in January that Dolan could be tempted to use the proceeds of the sale to close a $600 million construction budget shortfall for the MSG Sphere, a 580,000-square-foot, 17,500-seat, exosphere entertainment venue the firm is building in Las Vegas. 

MSG’s 8-K report, released April 17 in conjunction with the sale, noted that “Proceeds from the sale are expected to be used for general corporate matters, as well as Sphere initiatives.” 

The $2.2 billion MSG Sphere has seen its costs soar five years after breaking ground – as it now exceeds the cost of the $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium used by the neighboring Las Vegas Raiders of the National Football League – yet the entertainment complex is still on track to open this September.

Brian Pascus can be reached at bpascus@commercialobserver.com