Featured in this EMEA Hospitality Newsletter - Week Ending 5 March 2004
Time To Lodge A Bid For Premier Lodge Says FT
Accor Comes Up To Expectation
Morley Helps Tulip Growers
DIFA In For The Hamburg Marriott
NH Hoteles Gives It To Us Straight
From St Pancras To Manchester With Whitbread
Macdonald's Slimming Down In Aberdeenshire
Tez On A Tour Of Turkey

Time To Lodge A Bid For Premier Lodge Says FT
The Financial Times at least is convinced that the long anticipated sale of the Premier Lodge hotel chain is about to begin. The newspaper names Whitbread, the Travelodge chain and Bob Ivell among those stooping to pick up their copy of Spirit Group's sales memorandum from the mat. That the names of Whitbread and Travelodge are on the FT's list should come as little surprise; the press has had them among their favourites to strike a deal ever since November, when Spirit Amber Bidco (a combination of Spirit, Texas Pacific Group, Blackstone Group, CVC, and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity) completed the £2.51 billion purchase of Scottish & Newcastle's Managed Retail business. The FT suggests that between 130 and 140 Premier Lodge properties currently operational in the UK will be sold along with ten to 20 hotels currently under construction. As the brochure is likely to illustrate fewer pubs than expected, the newspaper adds that the sale price may as a consequence be lower: £500 million as opposed to £600 million.

Accor Comes Up To Expectation Return to Headlines
Accor had been saying as recently as January that it would make €500 million in pre-tax profit for the full year 2003. And the French company duly fulfilled its own expectations by reaching and edging past that target. Despite the ravages of war, economic slowdown and currency fluctuations, Accor's pre-tax profit came in at €523 million, 25.6% down on the previous year's comparable. Consolidated sales in what the company termed 'a very tough year' fell 4.3%, to €6.8 billion. Accor has seen signs of a recovery in the UK and the USA, and to some extent in Germany. France though, which welcomed significantly fewer international tourists, is a worry.

Morley Helps Tulip Growers Return to Headlines
If you had been thinking of making a donation to bring a Tulip Inn to your particular corner of the UK or Ireland then you may as well return the envelope to the mantelpiece for the moment. The Times reports that Morley Fund Management is to back Golden Tulip UK's (GTUK) ambition to have another 15 hotels under development with funding of close on £100 million. Some of that money will go towards opening a 108-room Tulip Inn at the North Harbour Business Park on the south coast at Portsmouth. GTUK is thought to be in negotiations for sites in cities including London, Birmingham, Belfast and Dublin. The company is no stranger to generous donations; its original plan to build at least 17 Tulip Inn hotels in the UK and Ireland was made possible with the £33 million in equity and debt funding it obtained in September 2002 from venture capitalist Graphite Capital and Barclays Bank Hospitality & Leisure.

DIFA In For The Hamburg Marriott Return to Headlines
Deutsche Immobilien Fonds AG (DIFA) is reported to have paid US hotel investment firm Strategic Hotel Capital an undisclosed sum for the 277-room Hamburg Marriott Hotel in northern Germany. The purchase strengthens DIFA's German hotel portfolio, which numbers the InterContinental Berlin and the Hilton Munich City in its ranks. Down in the Czech Republic, meanwhile, Falkensteiner Hotels & Resorts is to open the 109-room Falkensteiner Hotel Maria Prag in the capital this April, before heading west the following month to the resort of Mariánské Lázně to unveil the 168-room Grand Spa Hotel Marienbad. Prague may also have to find extra room to accommodate Radisson SAS Hotels, which, according to reports, is on the look out for buildings it can lease to expand its operations.

NH Hoteles Gives It To Us Straight Return to Headlines
NH Hoteles made no mention of the war or even the Sars outbreak: it simply set out its results for the full year 2003 and left it to others to interpret them. The company saw EBITDA for the period fall 30.5% on the previous year, to €155.3 million, and total revenue slip 0.3%, to €927.3 million. The hotels though were blameless in the revenue fall, for they managed a 0.4% rise in revenue, to €870 million. NH Hoteles also noted that some of the proceeds from various sales had allowed it to cut its debt, which in December 2002 totalled €667 million, by 28%.

From St Pancras To Manchester With Whitbread Return to Headlines
The Times reports that Whitbread is to operate what was once, for some 60 years until 1935, the Midland Grand Hotel. The Manhattan Loft Corporation is to restore the Grade I listed building at St Pancras railway station in London, with the £50 million renovation work also adding three floors of loft apartments. Whitbread will then reopen the property in 2008 as a 240-room Marriott hotel. The company is also taking the Marriott brand north to Manchester, where in March 2005 it will be applied to the Victoria & Albert Hotel. From now until then the 158-room property, which is owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and which was formerly run by Le Meridien, will enjoy a £5 million refurbishment paid for by RBS. According to Alan Parker, Whitbread's CEO-in-waiting, the two deals illustrate the company's desire to move away from owning and operating Marriott hotels in favour of managing them.

Macdonald's Slimming Down In Aberdeenshire Return to Headlines
London & Edinburgh Inns has taken its Scottish hotel portfolio to 13 with the acquisition of two of Macdonald Hotels' properties in the northeast of the country. The 109-room Waterside Inn and Lodge, near Peterhead, and the 48-room Thainstone House in Inverurie went for an undisclosed sum, though one that was reportedly in line with the book value of each property. Back across the border in England, Niche Hotels, the company which opened its account in December 2002 with the £4.5 million purchase of the Queensgate Hotel in west London, now has a second hotel to enjoy. Wren's Hotel Group has allowed the 32-room Wyck Hill House Hotel in Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire to fly the nest for a reported £4 million. Meanwhile, in York, the new private owners of the Guy Fawkes Hotel are to close the ten-room property for four or five months in order to renovate the Grade II listed hotel and reopen it as a top-quality townhouse hotel and restaurant.

Tez On A Tour Of Turkey Return to Headlines
Tour agency Tez Tour is to open two five-star hotels in southern Turkey next month: the 900-bed Amara Beach Resort in Side Colakli, and, in partnership with native firm Rixos Hotels, the 368-room Rixos Hotel Kemer. A month later another resort will be celebrating a hotel opening: Bodrum, which will welcome the 171-room Aegean Dream Resort. HBI of Zagreb will also be enjoying coastal views, although these will be of the Adriatic rather than the Aegean or the Mediterranean. The company has paid the Croatian Privatisation Fund a reported US$11.5 million for an 88.66% stake in Hoteli Mlini, a complex which includes the three-star Hotel Astarea and the two-star Hotel Mlini. HBI is obliged under the terms of the purchase to pay off the debts and find another US$27.3 million over the next five years for renovation work.

Absolute Share Price Performance Over the Past Week 26/02/04-04/03/04

NH Hoteles - The full year results met with UBS's expectations. UBS retains its 'Neutral 2' rating.

Accor - The results met Morgan Stanley's expectations and fell in line with Deutsche Bank's. The latter keeps its 'Hold' rating.

Gresham Hotel Group - The board's assurances that talks with the consortium are continuing came too late to still market rumours to the contrary which had sent the share price tumbling.