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Park Plaza London Waterloo
London remains a country apart

This week the distant rumbling of results season came ever closer with PPHE the latest to issue a trading update and, much as at Whitbread, there were lots of good things to say about London. With London due to enjoy another record year of openings one wonders how long the party can last, but last it does.

Unlike Whitbread, PPHE was having a good time outside London too and was anticipating growth in New York after having bought out its joint venture partner. Full steam definitely ahead for the group’s pipeline and no sign of budget hotels in Germany.

Also raising its head above the parapet this week was Accor, which launched a €300m share buyback as part of its plans to return €1bn to shareholders over the next 24 months. The company has been subject to criticism over its share price for some time now as some investors are not convinced that it is travelling road they’d prefer - they have eyes on selling off choice parts of the luxury portfolio which the group has added in recent years to broaden the offering from the budget and economy flags we know so well.

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Can it resist? The group has been the acquirer rather than the acquiree for so long it’s hard to think of it as a bid target, but it must surely be in someone’s sights. We would, of course, like to think of Marriott International, where the two would complement each other geographically and many a dealmaker has spent the 3am hour thinking similar thoughts. But, much like breaking up Premier Inn, if it was going to be done, it would be done by now.

So what do we fancy? Radisson? IHG? Huazhu?

And talking of, Huazhu was enthused in its latest results as it too expanded outside the realm of budget and economy and outside China with last year’s purchase of Deutsche Hospitality, making it part of the competition with shareholder Accor. An ideal springboard into Europe and one to consider if you’re selling a medium-sized brand.

And now something to ponder as you think about finding your slippers. If you were looking to raise, say, €1bn and you had to use NH Hotels Group to do it, what would you do?

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