French hotel giant Accor is to sell its major stake in casino operator Groupe Lucien Barrière as it pushes ahead with plans to become Europe's largest hotel franchisor.
In a statement Novotel and Ibis owner Accor confirmed it would be selling its 17 million plus shares in the casino company, which is in the process of an initial public offering in France, in a move that should net it between €280m (£234m) and €343m (£287m).
The company added that the "disposal is in line with Accor's strategy to refocus on its hospitality business" formalised after the demerger of its voucher services business in June.
Accor aims to add 800 franchised hotels in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region by 2015, as well as bolstering its presence in the UK.
In an exclusive interview with Caterer earlier this month Yann Callière, deputy chief executive of Accor for EMEA, said that many more independents were approaching Accor about becoming franchises in the current tough trading environment, fitting perfectly with its newly crystallised strategy.
Callière added: "We think we can cover all areas of the market with our range of brands, and in Europe those brands are very well-known."
By Chris Druce
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