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Shareholders rebel over brewer's plans to sell Stafford hotel

07 July 2009 by

The owner of London's Stafford hotel, Lancashire brewer Daniel Thwaites, faces a revolt from its biggest institutional shareholders over its plans to sell the hotel for about £75m.

Guinness Peat Group (GPG), which holds more than a 6% share in Thwaites, has written to the brewer's board arguing that the mooted sale price for the historic Mayfair hotel is tantamount to a "fire sale" and would cause "an immediate and material diminution in shareholder value", according to The Times.

It calls on the board to provide "immediate confirmation that the company will not undertake a sale of the Stafford at a depressed price of at or around £75m", arguing it would fetch £100m "in the right property environment". It says that if Thwaites refuses, GPG "will be forced to raise our concerns directly and publicly with shareholders".

The letter to Ann Yerburgh, the chairman and a member of the founding Thwaites family, says the decision to sell the hotel was solely driven by a need to reduce debt.

GPG says it would be willing to subscribe for new shares worth up to £20m to allow Thwaites to reduce its net debt of £136m and ease any pressures the group faces.

Thwaites currently has about 400 pubs and nine Shire Hotels. The 105-room Stafford, which it has owned for the past 14 years, was put up for sale at the end of last year amid hopes that it might fetch as much as £100m.

It is understood that last month Thwaites entered exclusive talks with an Egyptian bidder over a deal worth between £75m and £80m.

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By Gemma Sharkey

E-mail your comments to Gemma Sharkey here.

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