The final chapter of De Vere has been written with the sale of its Village Urban Resort brand to an American private equity company.
An affiliate of KSL Capital Partners fought off competition from around 20 interested parties from around the world to acquire the 25-strong group, with a further three hotels under development, for an unconfirmed sum of around £485m.
The sale of the business, once a giant of the hospitality sector, which was born out of the Greenall's brewing company, marks a return to the helm of Village Urban Resorts for Gary Davis. He will take over as chief executive, a role he stepped down from in 2011 to take over as chief executive of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, which KSL acquired last year.
The sell-off of the De Vere Group is now complete with the disposal earlier this year of its conference and training division De Vere Venues to the Starwood Capital Group for £231m, alongside the sale of individual properties within the hotels portfolio, including the Grand in Brighton.
Last week, it was announced that the six-strong collection of De Vere golf hotels, including Cameron House on Loch Lomond, was merged into QHotels following their acquisition by Sankaty Advisors and Canyon Capital Advisors, for a sum believed to be in the region of £160m.
The money raised by the sell-off of the group will go some way toward clawing back the £1.1b debt which Andrew Coppel (pictured) inherited when he took over as chairman of the De Vere Group in 2010. A £650m debt-for-equity swap with the Lloyds Banking Group at that time reduced the debt from its previous £1.7b level.
Coppel described the figure achieved by the Village sale as "a reflection of the excellent quality of the brand, which has a very strong and viable future and the potential to double its portfolio".
He said that 2014 had been the right time to off-load all three divisions of De Vere. "I was brought on board four and a half years ago to build the value of the company and crystalise the value of each element, which is what we have been able to do this year," he explained. Coppel will now take a short break before "getting back into the fray", but said that he has no intention of retiring.
The expansion of Village Urban Resorts begins in earnest with the opening next month of a hotel in Aberdeen, followed by further launches in Edinburgh in January 2015 and Glasgow (July 2015).
Coley Brenan, a principal at KSL described Village as occupying "a unique position in the UK market" due to its extensive offer which combines bedrooms with extensive health and fitness centres, restaurants and event spaces.
"With a very strong following and thousands of loyal members, we believe Village has tremendous potential for future growth. We are very pleased to add Village to KSL's portfolio of investments in the UK."
As well as now owning three key UK hotel brands: Malmaison, Hotel du Vin and Village Urban Resorts, KSL also counts the Belfy hotel in Sutton Coldfield amongst its portfolio which includes golf and ski resorts in the US.