PE firm Lone Star to create $1.6 bln UK hotel group

Dallas-based private equity group, Lone Star, is forming a £1-billion (around $1.6 billion) company called Amaris through the acquisition of 89 UK hotels. It subsequently will look to float the company on the stock market.

As FT reports, Lone Star has targeted distressed hotels in recent years, purchasing 29 Jurys Inn hotels in January for £680 million and Puma Hotels, which owned the Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds and the Imperial in Torquay, for £323 million last year.

Amaris will also include 21 Mercure hotels, three Hilton properties and 19 Thistle hotels.

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“The strategy is to create a branded hotels business. Many of these hotels have great locations but have not had much put into them. We have £100m to invest and renovate these hotels,” John Brennan, the current head of Jurys Inn who will become Amaris’ CEO, told FT.

“This year is about strategy. In 2016 we will do the renovation and investment; 2017 is when we should see the fruits of our labours,” he said, adding that a number of the hotels could be repositioned and that he was discussing which brands to bring into the portfolio.

“I have been advising Lone Star for a year and we had acquired a number of these hotels beforehand. It was the acquisition of Jurys Inn that unlocked the strategy for us,” said Grant Hearn, the former chief executive of Travelodge, who will become non-executive chairman of the new company. “The aim is to create value by deploying capital and showing what the business is capable of. The plan is to build a business we can [float].”

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