Hotel operator Interstate for sale, could fetch as much as $600M

Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels Group can't seem to exit the news cycle.

Days after speculation surfaced that it would merge with Plateno Hotels Group to form China's largest hotel company, then, perhaps, look to jointly acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that it, along with JV partner Thayer Lodging Group, are in talks to sell Interstate Hotels & Resorts, the largest independent hotel operator in the U.S.

In late 2009/early 2010, hotel operator Jin Jiang acquired Interstate via a joint venture with hotel investor Thayer Lodging Group in a deal valued at approximately $307 million.

Last July, Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management, Canada’s largest manager of alternative assets, acquired Thayer for an undisclosed amount.

Interstate's largest recent deal was the acquisition of the management agreements of Rim Hospitality, which accounts for nearly 70 hotels and more than 10,600 rooms. Terms of that deal were not disclosed.

Jin Jiang and Thayer have enlisted investment bank Moelis & Co. to market the company and are considering offers, sources told WSJ. The company, based in Arlington, Va., could fetch a price of more than $600 million.

Interstate currently manages about 460 hotels globally, encompassing 81,000 rooms.

Hotel management companies have increased in size of late as hotel companies, such as Hilton, Marriott and Starwood, have exited the owned real estate and management business, instead focusing on franchising. That turn has allowed third-party management companies, like Interstate, to flourish.

Interstate, of late, has grown internationally. It has a UK division, which just added three hotels to its portfolio with the openings of Holiday Inn Express London ExCeL, Hilton at The Ageas Bowl Southampton and the management of the ibis Coventry Centre.

Interstate Europe Hotels & Resorts has over 60 hotels and almost 7,500 guest rooms managed and signed in the UK under franchise agreements.