EasyHotel CEO steps down

In the wake of a takeover by shareholder ICAMAP, Guy Parsons has left easyHotel after four years in the C-Suite.

Parsons’ role will be filled on an interim basis by Scott Christie, the group’s non-executive interim chairman, until a new CEO is appointed.

Commenting on the moves, the new non-executive chairman, Harm Meijer, said, “On behalf of the board and all of the company's stakeholders I would like to thank Guy for his significant contribution and the key role he has played building the brand, the hotel portfolio and guests' experience. Guy leaves the company with our best wishes and I personally wish him every success for the future.”

Chris Mumford, managing director, Aethos Consulting Group, told our IHIF newsletter, “The departure of Guy Parsons on the one hand came as something of a surprise as he was generally regarded as having done a good job and had refocused the business and put the company on a more solid growth trajectory; on the other hand we should no longer be surprised when a change in ownership is shortly followed by a departure of the incumbent CEO—we see it all too often. The reasons for his exit are pure speculation at this stage but he leaves the business in better shape than he found it and it will be no easy task for the board to secure someone of similar caliber and experience to take over the reins.”

In addition to his CEO role, Parsons also was a non-executive director at Yorkshire Building Society, drawing on past banking experience. His history in the hotel sector saw him focus largely on the economy and budget sectors, with positions including CEO at Travelodge and duties with brands such as Travel Inn and Novotel.

Shift in Control

Last month saw a consortium of Ivanhoé Cambridge, a real estate subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, and ICAMAP, a real estate fund manager, announce they now controlled 68.8 percent of easyHotel.

With 27.9 percent of easyHotel's share capital held by easyGroup, the private investment vehicle of Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the creator and owner of the ‘easy’ family of brands, this left a balance of 3.4 percent minority shareholders.

Haji-Ioannou previously had objected to the takeover move, describing it as “very low.”

Once the deal was declared unconditional, he called on ICAMAP/Ivanhoe to replace “all the directors, whose advice to shareholders to accept the undervalued offer at 95p was plainly wrong.”

An easyHotel room. Photo credit: easyHotel

He added: “While I applaud the ICAMAP/Ivanhoe’s huge vote of confidence in easyHotel, I must repeat my insistence that it remains a listed company on the London market. It’s now clear that easyGroup’s 28 percent blocking minority stake and ICAMAP’s low-ball offer [have] made it impossible for easyHotel to be taken private. Therefore, this exercise was an object lesson in pointlessness. By taking their stake from 38 percent to 6 percent, ICAMAP have achieved little other than to enrich lawyers and bankers to the tune of £1.5 million. What a colossal waste of money.

“But we are where we are. We will need to lay out a road map for further equity raisings in what is now Europe’s fastest-growing, super-budget hotel chain to make it the success it surely deserves to be.”

Haji-Ioannou had previously attempted to buy up shares to take his stake to just below the 30 percent threshold, at which takeover rules would require him to make a bid for the whole company.

The 95p-per-share offer valued easyHotel’s equity at GBP138.7 million on a fully diluted basis and implied a multiple of 36.7 times the growing company’s EBITDA of GBP3.4 million for the 12 months ended March 31.

The pair said that the company needed “significant investment” to fulfil its potential, with a move toward more franchising within the U.K. widely expected.

EasyHotel's 12 owned hotels comprise 1,340 rooms, with a further 26 franchised hotels with 2,293 rooms. Its committed development pipeline of owned and franchised hotels currently consists of nine owned and eight franchised hotels.

Karim Habra, head of Europe, Ivanhoé Cambridge, said, “This investment perfectly illustrates our innovative value-creation strategies through a complex operation. The easyHotel concept is pioneering and visionary. It is already a strong brand and we believe in its growth potential on a pan-European scale at a time when mass tourism is growing rapidly every year.”

Guillaume Poitrinal and Harm Meijer, founding partners of ICAMAP, said: “Following the very strong level of acceptances of the offer, we look forward to working with easyGroup and the other shareholders to grow and expand the business and help easyHotel realize its full potential.”