InterContinental Hotels exploring deals for sale or merger, in talks to buy Fairmont: sources

InterContinental Hotels Group Plc is exploring strategic options including a potential sale or merger.
InterContinental Hotels Group Plc is exploring strategic options including a potential sale or merger.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Holiday Inn owner InterContinental Hotels Group Plc is exploring strategic options including a potential sale or merger after attracting interest amid a boom in lodging deals, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The world's largest provider of hotel accommodation, which has a market value of about 6.4 billion pounds (S$13.7 billion), is discussing with financial advisers whether to sell itself or combine with a competitor as the sector consolidates, the people said, asking not to be named because the talks are private.

InterContinental is also in talks to buy Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, owner of Singapore's Raffles hotels, according to two people familiar with the matter.

No final decision has been made and the company may choose to stay independent and could focus on making acquisitions of its own, the people said.

InterContinental shares rose as much as 7 per cent in London, and traded up 3.5 per cent to 2,702 pence at 12:30 p.m. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment.

Global lodging transactions have increased 13 per cent to more than US$28 billion in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., the parent of the Westin and St. Regis brands, hired an adviser earlier this year to help explore strategic options and is currently the subject of a bidding war.

HNA Group Co., hotelier Jin Jiang International (Holdings) Co. and sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp. are vying to acquire Stamford, Connecticut-based Starwood, a person with knowledge of the matter said last month. CNBC reported last week that Hyatt Hotels Corp. is in advanced talks to buy the chain. Another major competitor in lodging is Wyndham Worldwide Corp., which owns the Ramada chain.

InterContinental, owner of the Crowne Plaza and Indigo chains, has been the subject of speculation that it could combine with another player. The company in July said it isn't in merger talks with Starwood after the Financial Times reported that negotiations had taken place. Shares of InterContinental are almost unchanged this year, compared with a 16 per cent decline in the benchmark Bloomberg World Lodging Index.

The Denham, England-based company last month reported that third-quarter room revenue rose 4.8 per cent from a year earlier, thanks to increases in all regions except Greater China.