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Whitbread tight-lipped on £3bn bid rumours

From The Publican

By Hamish Champ , 24-Jul-2006

Whitbread has refused to comment on press speculation that it is the bid target of a large US hotel operator.

Reports over the weekend suggested that Starwood Capital, a large US hotel and property group which numbers the Sheraton and Westin brands among its portfolio, has been in talks with advisers about tabling a £3bn-plus bid for the leisure group.

According to the reports, Starwood is highly acquisitive and looking to add to its stable of hotel assets.

It is seen as a potential buyer of Whitbread, which owns the Premier Lodge hotel chain, due to the fit with its own budget hotels, which include the French group Societe du Louvre.

Whitbread last week sold its 235 non-core pub restaurants to Mitchells & Butlers for £497m, prompting speculation that the group, which also owns the David Lloyd leisure centre chain, might be broken up in due course.