The Caterer

OFT gives go ahead to Whitbread-Marriott merger

28 April 2005
OFT gives go ahead to Whitbread-Marriott merger

Leisure giant Whitbread and Marriott International's proposed merger has been given the go ahead by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

In a statement, the OFT said: "It has decided, on the information currently available, not to refer the following merger to the Competition Commission under the provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002."

Whitbread put its four- and five-star Marriott Branded properties on the market in March - a move which should net it £1b and allow it to pay shareholders a special dividend.

The group intends to focus its core products of budget hotels, restaurants and leisure clubs.

The deal, which should be completed on time by the 5 May, will see Whitbread form a joint 50:50 venture with US company Marriott Hotels until the hotels are sold.

Under the agreement, Whitbread will receive £710m on 5 May, of which £400m will be returned to shareholders, £100m will go towards reducing the company's pension deficit and the rest will be used to reduce overall debt.

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