Whitbread PLC is sellingtheir interests in the Marriott Hotels 50/50 joint venture to Royal Bank of Scotland (“RBS”). The joint venture, which owns 46 Marriott branded hotels, was formed last year following Whitbread’s announcement to exit from the operation and ownership of its franchised four-star hotel business.
The transaction, which completes today, values the joint venture at £951.4m*. Whitbread has also today agreed to sell the Leicester Marriott hotel development to RBS for £30m, subject to satisfaction of conditions concerning the opening of the hotel. Completion of this sale is expected in June 2006. Whitbread will receive approximately £237m as its share of the proceeds from the sale of its interest in the joint venture. This is in addition to the £710m that it received last year upon establishment of the joint venture.
This transaction delivers the majority of the asset disposal programme that Whitbread announced last year. Proceeds of the asset sales completed to date, including Britvic and The Brewery at Chiswell Street, together with the remaining assets yet to be sold, are on target to achieve £1.3 billion.
Alan Parker, Chief Executive, Whitbread PLC said. “I am pleased that having completed this transaction ahead of schedule we are now in a position to return to shareholders the £400m that we previously committed. We will be giving confirmation of the timing and method of this return at our Annual Results on 25th April. This means that together with the £400m special dividend last May we will have returned a total of £800m to shareholders.
“This sale brings the excellent partnership that we have enjoyed with Marriott International to a close. Following our decision last year to exit the four-star hotel business we are now a more focused company, intent on delivering improvements in operating performance, reducing costs and driving growth in our best performing brands”.