Israel's Azrieli expands its business with Jerusalem hotel purchase

TEL AVIV, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Israeli real estate developer Azrieli Group said on Monday it is expanding into the hospitality sector with the purchase of the Mount Zion Hotel in Jerusalem for 275 million shekels ($79 million).

The company plans to establish two additional hotels: in the city of Modi’in, on the lot adjacent to the Azrieli Mall, and in Tel Aviv as part of its Spiral Building, whose construction is expected to be completed in 2025.

The hospitality market in Israel has been growing due to a rise in the number of tourists.

“The Azrieli Group sees in the hotel industry an opportunity to expand its mix of operations and the creation of a new growth engine in this large and significant sector, which is related to the core business of the group in the income-producing real estate sector,” the company said in a statement.

The Mount Zion Hotel has 137 rooms, stores, restaurants, spa, swimming pool and a museum. Azrieli plans to renovate and expand the hotel at a cost of 500-600 million shekels. The hotel has an approved zoning plan that allows for an increase in the number of rooms to 400. ($1 = 3.4684 shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen Editing by Steven Scheer)