Barclays brothers buy 25% stake in Maybourne – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

24 January 2011 by
Barclays brothers buy 25% stake in Maybourne – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Barclay brothers buy 25% stake in Maybourne Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, the billionaire twins who own London's Ritz hotel and the Daily Telegraph, have bought a 24.8% stake in the Maybourne Hotel Group, which owns Claridge's, the Berkeley and the Connaught hotels in London. As Maybourne is valued at around £700m, the Barclays are believed to have paid around £75m for their stake via the acquisition of Misland (Cyprus). City insiders believe the move could spark a £1b bidding war for Maybourne led by the Qatari royal family, which has already expressed an interest in buying the group. Maybourne was acquired for £750m in 2004 by an Irish consortium led by Derek Quinlan (who owns an 18% stake) and was recently granted a two-year extension on £660m of debt owed to Ireland's National Asset Management Agency. - 22 January
Read the full article inthe Timesandthe Independent >>

Government to back online guest reviews in place of hotel grading system
The Government is expected to phase out its support for the official star-grading system for hotels in favour of customer reviews on the internet in a tourism strategy to be published later this year. It suggests that the grading systems assessed by tourism bodies such as VisitEngland and the AA are "out of date", do not reflect value for money or what guests want, and are often unreliable and unfair. In contrast, it believes that guest reviews on the internet provide "more truthful insights by fellow consumers" and "clear and accurate information". The Government also feels consumer reviews can make hotels greener and more accessible to the disabled. It was concerned also that hoteliers felt coerced to join a star scheme for which they had to pay. However, it conceded that some consumer reviews can be "brutal" or malicious - an issue that has spurred some hotels and B&Bs to consider legal action against the TripAdvisor website. - 23 January
Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

Chief executive appointed to head up demerged La Tasca Kaupthing and Commerzbank, owners of the Bay Restaurant Group, have appointed Simon Wilkinson of Kout Food as chief executive of the group's tapas bar chain La Tasca, which they plan to demerge into a standalone business. - 21 January
Read the full article in The Times >>

Lovering to quit as M&B chairman John Lovering, chairman of pub operator Mitchells & Butlers, has told the board that he intends to quit as soon as a successor has been found. Lovering took on the role a year ago after former chairman Simon Laffin was ousted in an acrimonious boardroom row with a group of majority shareholders. Mike Balfour, founder of the Fitness First gym chain who joined at the same time as Lovering, is also expected to leave the board. Lovering has slashed the group's debt after raising more than £600m from the sale of its tenpin bowling business and hundreds of pubs, cut costs, and increased its focus on food. The group is forecast to announce a 1.5% rise in like-for-like sales in the nine weeks to 22 January at its annual general meeting this week. - 23 January
Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

Chop Chop unveils expansion plans Chop Chop, the Edinburgh Chinese restaurant that was predicted to "go far" as a finalist in Gordon Ramsay's The F Word, has unveiled plans to launch three new eateries this year. The group has opened two outlets in Edinburgh since 2006 and now intends to expand to sites in Glasgow in May and Newcastle later in the year, with a third venue yet to be decided. Longer term, restaurant manager Roy King (whose wife Jian Wang is Chop Chop's head chef) wants to run two restaurants in Glasgow and is also looking at international growth. "It is a dream to have 20 Chop Chops in 20 cities in the UK, and then to take it really big and have Chop Chops in America, Madrid, Stockholm and Sydney," he said. Chop Chop offers North-eastern Chinese cuisine and has a factory selling its renowned savoury dumplings. - 23 January
Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >>

Rising costs forecast to add 30p to a pint of beer The soaring cost of barley and wheat, combined with rises in duty and VAT, could add as much as 30p to the price of a beer, according to experts. The duty escalator alone is likely to increase the cost by 4.25% to 6.5%. But the Grocer magazine pointed out that the government had ignored the rising cost of ingredients, packaging and distribution in its calculations. British barley prices have already risen by 90% this year and are forecast to continue rising as the global harvest slumps by 43% to a four-year low, while the cost of wheat has also nearly doubled. Meanwhile, the price diesel and cardboard have grown by 35% year-on-year. - 22 January
Read the full article in the Daily Express >>

Aldo Zilli to sell 20% stake in organic baby food business Celebrity chef and London restaurateur Aldo Zilli is seeking a partner in the organic baby food business, Baby Zilli, that he set up in 2008. He has appointed Cavendish Corporate Finance to sell a 20% stake to raise up to £2m, valuing the business at £10m. Baby Zilli forecasts UK sales and EBITDA of around £73m and £15m respectively in four years. - 23 January
Read the full article in the Sunday Telegraph >>

Harry Ramsden's owner to buy Northern Foods for £342m Chicken magnate Ranjit Boparan, who bought the Harry Ramsden's fish and chip shop chain last year, tabled an 11th-hour recommended bid for major food supplier Northern Foods just minutes before the extended 7pm deadline agreed by the Takeover Panel. His improved £342m cash bid values Northern Foods at 73p a share and will create a combined group with a £2b annual turnover. It eclipses a planned all-share merger with Greencore - the largest sandwich maker in the UK - that would have formed a merged company called Essenta with a £1.7b annual turnover. Greencore is considering raising its offer. Northern Foods comes with a £300m debt and a £142m pension fund deficit. - 22 and 23 January
Read the full article in theDaily Telegraph, theIndependent, theDaily Express, and theIndependent on Sunday >>

By Angela Frewin

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