Wednesday 18 September 2019

EasyHotel founder buys more shares amid takeover opposition

Property fund manager ICAMAP and real estate investor Ivanhoe Cambridge have gained a majority stake in the value hotel chain.

EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (Michael Stephens/PA)
EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (Michael Stephens/PA)

By Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

EasyHotel’s billionaire founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has bought £60,000-worth of shares in the company as he continues to blockade plans to take it private.

The value hotel chain is set to be taken over by property fund manager ICAMAP and real estate investor Ivanhoe Cambridge despite staunch opposition from the easyJet founder.

The bidding companies, working as a consortium under the banner of Citrus UK Bidco, have gained a majority stake in the company after taking over roughly 52% of shares.

Sir Stelios said the consortium are trying to take over the chain ‘on the cheap’ (Michael Stephens/PA)

Earlier this month, the bidders confirmed the takeover attempt, which valued the group’s shares at roughly £139 million, or 95p a share.

Sir Stelios dismissed the consortium’s valuation of the company, describing them as trying to buy out shareholders “on the cheap”.

He has said he will continue to buy up more shares and work alongside the company’s majority owners but will not have it taken private for 95p a share.

ICAMAP and Ivanhoe Cambridge would need a 75% stake in the company to take it private but are being thwarted by the billionaire, who has now raised his stake in EasyHotel to more than 27%.

The founder said he could increase his stake to more than 30% after the takeover panel confirmed he would not be required to bid for the whole company as is customary after the ownership threshold is passed.

If the consortium wishes to take the company private, it is understood it will have to wait six months before it can offer a higher bid to convince Sir Stelios to exit the company.

At 95p, I am a buyer of shares and not a seller Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou

In a statement, Sir Stelios said: “I am delighted that ICAMAP and Ivanhoe Cambridge think that EasyHotel is such a great business that they want to invest big money to build more great value EasyHotels.

“Nobody would be happier when this brand goes from 50 hotels in operation and under construction now to say 150 in a few years.

“As with every listed share in the world and as a rational investor, I believe that there is a price to buy and a price to sell EasyHotel shares.

“At 95p, I am a buyer of shares and not a seller. Now we will all have to work together to grow the number of EasyHotels exponentially.”

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