By Rosemary Pollock
Marriott Expected to Win Le Meridien Auction
LONDON, ENGLAND -- The bid by the Marriott Corp. for the Compass
Group's upmarket Le Meridien Hotel chain, submitted Monday, is
expected to beat that of Nomura to win the auction, industry sources
say. Final bids in the range of $2.44-2.58 billion were due Monday to
finish what has been the world's largest hotels auction. An
announcement of the winner could come as early as today.
Marriott and Japanese Bank Nomura had considered a joint $2.87
billion bid for Le Meridien, industry sources said in mid-April. But
the two firms, the only remaining bidders in the final round of the
months-long auction process, were unable to come to terms.
Marriott, founded by the Marriott family who are members of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is looking at the bid
for Le Meridien to allow them a major expansion outside of the U.S.
The purchase would include 146 luxury 4 and 5 star Le Meridien
Hotels, along with London's Grosvenor House and Waldorf hotels.
Marriott reportedly plans to sell some of the United Kingdom hotels
to its partner, Whitbread, which runs most of the Marriott branded
hotels in the UK.
"Marriott is in the driving seat, and looks certain to put in a
winning bid," said one source close to the talks. Marriott is likely
to rebrand Meridien hotels if they are successful in the bidding.
Sources close to the companies report that Compass may struggle to
sell the Meridien chain for over two billion pounds as the threat of
global economic slowdown has put hotel prices under pressure.
Marriott investors will be briefed on the deal at an analyst meeting
in Washington on May 7.
Marriott to make strong Meridien bid
Reuters 30Apr01 B4
By David Jones
Nomura, Marriott consider joint Meridien bid
Reuters 14Apr01 B4
Marriott in Auction Battle to Acquire Hotel Group