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Whitbread plays down SSP speculation

02 December 2005

Whitbread has played down press speculation it is preparing a bid for Compass's concessions business Select Service Partner (SSP).

Although the company is not commenting on the speculation officially, it privately admitted it had requested sales information about SSP from Compass but only as a matter of course.

A company insider also rubbished claims Whitbread would sell one of its businesses off, such as David Lloyd Leisure, to fund a deal, which is thought to be valued at around £1bn.

He said: "As stated at the company's recent half-year results, no business in our portfolio is for sale."

Whitbread, which is currently restructuring its head-office function and shedding 250 jobs to streamline operations, has been at the centre of continuing bid speculation itself for much of the year, with a number of private equity firms linked to a takeover.

Interested parties keen on breaking up Whitbread's empire are said to include Charterhouse, Macquarie Bank, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Texas Pacific Group, Kaupthing and Blackstone.

Whitbread's chief executive Alan Parker has maintained that none of its brands, which include TGI Friday's, Brewers Fayre and Costa, are for sale.

By Chris Druce

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