|The fireworks began popping on the day before the fourth of July; and the one particular rocket that made hospitality folk everywhere go “ooh” was the news that Hilton Hotels Corporation (HHC) is to be bought by The Blackstone Group. The US private equity firm is to pay US$47.5 for each share in HHC; the deal is thus valued at around US$26 billion. The all-cash transaction, which is subject to shareholder approval and the satisfaction of all other necessary conditions, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. Blackstone, which already owns more than 100,000 hotel rooms in the USA and Europe, plans to invest additional monies in HHC’s hotels and brands; HHC has more than 450,000 rooms in more than 2,800 hotels worldwide.|
|Pandox, the Swedish hotel property company, has paid Westbridge Hospitality Fund a total of €52 million for the ownership and operation of two hotels in Belgium: the 310-room Holiday Inn Brussels Airport and the 262-room Crowne Plaza Antwerp. Pandox will manage both properties under franchise from InterContinental Hotels Group and will spend a total of at least €8 million on the refurbishment of both. Pandox now has a portfolio of seven hotels (1,820 rooms) shared between the cities of Brussels and Antwerp that has a market value of some €275 million.|
|Puma Brandenburg bobbed up on the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) in March last year, ready for voyages into the residential and commercial real estate markets in Germany. In its latest acquisition, the investment firm, which is registered on the island of Guernsey, has spent a total of €116 million on four assets. One is the 306-room Hyatt Regency Cologne and another is an Ibis hotel that forms part of an office block in the centre of the city of Nuremberg.|
|By the light of that exquisitely cut chandelier we can see that Baccarat Hotels and Resorts has been created by Starwood Capital Group. Through a glass we will notice the fine details: that the first property in the luxury chain is due to open on Hawaii in 2010 and that the brand will subsequently migrate into Europe, the Caribbean and the Far East. Each hotel will have between 80 and 250 rooms. Starwood Capital has, through an affiliate, held a stake of 86% in Baccarat, a company renowned for its high-quality goods, since 2005 when that affiliate acquired Société du Louvre.|
|The Grand Hôtel Stockholm has been radiating luxury along the waterfront in the Swedish capital for 133 years. A notable date in its diary will be 1 January 2008, the day when the 376-room property takes the InterContinental franchise. The hotel will be renamed the Grand Hôtel InterContinental Stockholm. Elsewhere in Sweden, Norgani Hotels, the hotel property investor from Norway, has closed the sale of its shares in Norgani Jönköping Hagstensgärdet 1:5 to JM for SKr42 million (€4.5 million). Hagstensgärdet 1:5 is a building with a lettable area of some 7,200 m² in the city of Jönköping, in southern Sweden, that houses the 112-room Quality Hotel Winn.|
|A 50:50 joint venture formed by Accor and Amorim Group in 1997 has served the couple well in its endeavours to develop and operate hotels in Amorim’s native Portugal. Accor’s amour with Amorim is though now over, but the Portuguese firm will be smiling through the divorce. Accor is to pay Amorim €69 million for its half of the venture and is to sell the 131-room Sofitel Thalassa Vilalara to its ex for €25 million. Accor’s new-found bachelorhood in Portugal will not be a lonely one though, as Accor will have for company its portfolio of 29 hotels (3,093 rooms), a portfolio of which it will have sole ownership.|
|Had Vector Hospitality floated as planned last month then it would in due course have purchased the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin chains from Marylebone Warwick Balfour (MWB) for £495.1 million. But the postponement of the flotation of what would have been the first specialist hospitality REIT (real estate investment trust) in the UK means that MWB is on the look out for a new buyer for the 17 hotels and another four that are to open by November. Vector was also the intended recipient of 15 hotels owned by Royal Bank of Scotland. The Times reports that the properties, which include 12 Hiltons, are to be sold instead to Robson Asset Management (RAM) for just over £1.1 billion. RAM is the newly formed investment vehicle of Jeremy Robson, formerly of – you guessed – Royal Bank of Scotland.|
|The bobble-hatted hordes will be descending on Sochi in 2014 after the International Olympic Committee chose the resort to be the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Sochi, which lies on the shores of the Black Sea in southwestern Russia, saw off competition from the South Korean city of Pyeongchang and the Austrian city of Salzburg. The hordes will of course need accommodation and the rapid development of hotels should be expected. HVS’s London office is already undertaking assignments in the city. Moscow hosted the summer games in 1980 and the Russian capital is now host to The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow, which opened as scheduled on 1 July. The 334-room hotel, which cost US$350 million, is a first in Russia for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the company's seventh hotel in Europe as a whole. The property stands on the site formerly occupied by the Soviet-era Intourist hotel.|
|Jebel Ali International Hotels, of Dubai, is to manage two hotels in Seychelles on behalf of the Enchanted brand, having signed contracts with Trinity Estates and Trinity Waterfront. Property number one is Round Island, which is 15 minutes by boat from the country’s capital Victoria and which will open its ten de luxe chalets in the third quarter of 2008. The second property is The Waterfront, which will open on the outskirts of Victoria in early 2010; the property will offer 40 de luxe rooms and suites.|
|CHE Hotel Group has changed its name to The Real Hotel Company, the better to reflect the company’s strategy of focusing on the no-frills, premium limited service and full service hotel markets. The name change also underscores the break from Choice Hotels International last year when CHE Hotel Group exited from the European master franchise agreement. The Real Hotel Company will be hoping for more real positives such as the other news that emerged from CHE Hotel Group’s AGM: RevPAR for the first five months of 2007 up 6.6% and EBIT among UK hotels up 13.2%.|
|Jurys Doyle Hotel Group has named Bill Walshe as its new chief executive. Mr Walshe moves from Jumeirah, where for the last six years he has been the Dubai hospitality company’s chief sales and marketing officer, to succeed Niall Geoghegan. Mr Geoghegan, who was appointed to the role a year ago, is moving on with the Jurys Inn portfolio, which was acquired recently by Quinlan Private.|
Absolute Share Price Performance Over the Past Week 28/06/07-05/07/07
Accor - The company was among many in the hotel sector to ride the wave of takeover speculation created by the Blackstone/Hilton news. The share price was further strengthened by news that Colony Capital had raised its stake in Accor to 10.3%.
Sol Meliá - Deutsche Bank raised its rating from 'Sell' to 'Hold' and gave a target price of €16.2.
InterContinental Hotels Group - Another company to benefit from the news of the proposed Blackstone/Hilton deal.
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