By Ben KilbeyStarwood Capital Group Global LLC and Lehman Brothers have made a bid to take over the troubled Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, which operates some of the leading hotels of the world. Le Méridien has struggled with debt since making large purchases in 2001 - much of this debt has been held by Lehman Brothers. Starwood will take control of all of Le Méridien’s properties with the exception of one, Forte Village in Sardinia.Robert Riley, CEO of Le Méridien commented:
“If completed, these arrangements would at long last provide for the consensual recapitalisation of the Group. Le Méridien has a well-respected and unique identity with strong customer loyalty, and skilled, experienced and passionate employees. Its alignment with a robust multi-branded management company like Starwood Hotels should enable the Le Méridien brand and its hotels to thrive by enhancing revenue and accelerating growth.
The joint venture with Lehman Brothers and Starwood Capital Group should provide a financially strong structure for the current owned and leased portfolio. Providing an independent ownership structure for the Forte Village should create new potential for this world famous property.”
The transactions and recapitalisation are anticipated to be completed in the third quarter of 2005. In the meantime, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts will continue to be operated independently by current management.