Belfast Telegraph

Sir Stelios hits out at 'very low' £138.7m offer for easyHotel

Snub: Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou
Snub: Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou

By Simon Neville

The board of easyHotel is set for a clash with the company's founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, after it recommended that investors should accept an offer for the business.

It operates one hotel in Northern Ireland on Belfast's Howard Street.

Sir Stelios, who still owns 27% of easyHotel through his easyGroup investment company, said he would be rejecting the 95p-a-share offer, and urged other shareholders to follow his lead.

The offer from Luxembourg investment group ICAMAP, which holds a 38.7% stake in easyHotel, and Ivanhoe Cambridge, a Canadian-based pension fund, is 35% above the shares' closing price last Friday.

It values the group, which has 38 hotels in 10 countries, at £138.7m and said the deal would allow easyHotel to expand more quickly to new locations.

The board of easyHotel has recommended shareholders accept the offer, but Sir Stelios could cause problems in scuppering the deal.

He said: "I find the offer from ICAMAP to be very low and I urge all other shareholders to take no action (ie not accept the ICAMAP offer) until the true value and future potential of easyHotel can be evaluated.

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"It should be noted ICAMAP themselves paid 110p (per share) only 18 months ago and the stock has been as high as 128p just 15 months ago."

EasyHotel first joined the stock market five years ago, listing at 80p a share. Sir Stelios said it was aimed at the super-budget market.

But chairman Jonathan Lane said the offer is "fair and reasonable".

He added: "If accepted, the offer should enable the easyHotel group to accelerate its expansion into major European cities where it sees significant opportunity, underpinning the long-term growth and prosperity of the easyHotel brand."

Harm Meijer, founding partner and managing director of ICAMAP, said: "We continue to believe in the long-term strategy of the business. However, we also believe that the company needs a change in its shareholder base."

Belfast Telegraph