NEW YORK – The CEO of a company that owns several U.S. bowling alleys, including a popular one in Greenwich Village, said Thursday it was severing ties with a group linked to Yasser Arafat and would return its $1.3 million investment.
The late Palestinian leader invested the money in New York-based Strike Holdings, owner of Bowlmor Lanes in Greenwich Village, through a holding company he created called Onyx Funds, according to Bloomberg Markets Magazine.
“We are in the process of placing the funds in the amount they invested in escrow to be returned,” Strike Holdings CEO Thomas Shannon said in a telephone interview. Strike Holdings also owns bowling alleys on Long Island and in Maryland and Florida.
“Effectively as of today the PCSC will have no investments in Strike Holdings,” Shannon added. The PCSC is a Ramallah-based holding company owned by the Palestinian Authority.
Later at a news conference at the bowling alley, Shannon said he was feeling “shock and outrage.”
“We don’t choose to be affiliated with any political-based organization, especially one that may or may not have ties to things we find absolutely abhorrent,” Shannon said.
Zeid Masri, managing partner of SilverHaze Partners, a Virginia-based investment firm, had told Bloomberg Markets that he invested the money in Strike Holdings for Onyx because he had been a former classmate of Shannon’s.
Shannon said at the news conference that he felt betrayed by Masri and that the origins of the money should have been revealed.
“My relationship with Mr. Masri is over,” Shannon said.
Bowlmor is several blocks from the campus of New York University and is popular with Manhattan hipsters, who pay about $8 a game a person to bowl in the evenings and on weekends.
News of the investment upset some customers at the alley, which advertises itself on its Web site as an ideal location for bar and bat mitzvahs for Jewish teens.
“If I had known, I wouldn’t have come, but I promised the kids,” Steve Saslow, 55, told the Daily News.
The investment was among $799 million in international investments by Arafat detailed in newly released documents, Bloomberg Markets reported. Other holdings included $285 million in Orascom, an Egyptian cell phone company, and $3.2 million in the U.S. software firm Simplexity, it said.