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Siblings Michael Roberts Sr. and Steven Roberts Sr., owners of Roberts Cos., based in St. Louis, netted more than $100 million on the sale of their shares in Alamosa Holdings Inc. the nation’s largest Sprint PCS affiliate, in February.
Initially, the brothers were among Alamosa’s largest shareholders, arising out of a 2001 merger between Alamosa and Roberts Wireless Co. This merger yielded the Roberts brothers an 11% stake in publicly held Alamosa-or 11.4 million shares of stock worth more than $380 million at the time.
After five years of gradually liquidating portions of their holdings, the Roberts brothers sold the balance of their shares at $18.75, owing to a friendly takeover by Sprint Nextel. The total proceeds-roughly $112.5 million-will allow the family-owned business “to make even more opportunistic deals,” according to Michael Roberts Sr., chairman and chief executive of the company. “My brother and I plan to increase the value of our family assets to more than a billion dollars by 2008.”
Roberts says funds acquired from the sale have been used to purchase upscale hotels across the country, including the first African American-owned luxury hotel and conference center in Atlanta, the Crowne Plaza Marietta/Atlanta, which they purchased and renovated for $9.1 million.
“In selling our wireless phone company, my brother and I are expanding our financial interests to include the hospitality industry,” Roberts says. Due to recent forays into the industry by black businessmen such as former BET kingpin Bob Johnson, Roberts hopes African Americans will begin to realize the tremendous business opportunity that exists in the hospitality business.
Roberts says hotels were recently purchased in St. Louis; Tampa, Florida; and Houston in private/franchise deals. They will be managed separately from all of their other business interests.
“We also want to continue to grow our existing business entities,” Roberts says, including their urban shopping centers, television stations, and Bahamas real estate investments.
The Roberts Cos. is a multifaceted enterprise containing a myriad of entrepreneurial endeavors, including a group of five hotels and conference centers, urban shopping centers, office buildings, residential developments, a management consulting firm, America’s eighth largest broadcast and telecommunications tower company, and an aviation company.