>Bill Gates Boosts His Stake In Strategic Hotels By 8M Shares

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>DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

Bill Gates bought another eight million shares of Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc. (BEE) for $36.8 million, boosting his holdings to about 12.2 million shares total.

The company–a real-estate investment trust with properties in the U.S., Mexico and Europe–held a public offering of 40 million shares this week, hoping to raise proceeds for repaying debt. Many companies have been tapping equity markets to pay down their debt loads.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Gates’ investment fund Cascade tapped the offering to buy the shares at $4.60 apiece Thursday.

As of May 5, the company had 75.6 million total shares outstanding. In its earnings call that day, Chief Executive Laurence Geller said the company was surprised at the momentum of a recovery in high-end lodging. Its funds from operations, a key profitability metric for REITS, were flat in the first quarter excluding foreign currency exchange, as revenue slid just 1.5%.

Shares in Strategic Hotels closed down 4.8% Friday at $4.95. The stock has more than quadrupled in value over the last year.

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