A confident set of first quarter results from InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) recorded the strongest revenue per available room (revpar) performance for nearly two years.
A 6.1% increase in revpar in Europe just exceeded the global revpar growth figure of 6%. Double digit revpar growth in the UK reflected better local economic conditions and a comparison with a poor performance during the first quarter of 2013.
Continuing with its asset-light policy, the company completed the sale of two major hotels in March - of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco and an 80% interest in InterContinental New York Barclay for a combined $394m (£233m) - allowing the company to announce a $750m (£444m) special dividend.
Richard Solomons, chief executive of IHG, said the sale of the properties reflects the group's commitment "to returning surplus funds to shareholders" and "given the strength of the global demand for prime hotel assets", will be considering the disposal of further hotels.
"We have made an excellent start to the year with our strongest revpar performance in seven quarters and our best first quarter for pipeline signings in six years," he said. "This reflects the continued growth momentum in the business and the strong preference for our portfolio of brands from both owners and guests."
IHG operates nine brands including Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Hotel Indigo.
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