Marston Hotels has been taken off the market after shareholders rejected offers for the independent hotel group which operates 15 four-star properties across England.
Following an unsolicited approach in the spring from investment firm Dawnay Shore Hotels, which collapsed at the eleventh hour, shareholders instructed Christie & Co to sound out new buyers in September.
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Despite considerable interest from more than 50 finance houses and hotel operators, offers fell short of the estimated £175m sale price.
"The shareholders have concluded that there is a considerable upside to be achieved with keeping the existing portfolio under the direction of the current management team and so ownership for the foreseeable future will stay with the existing shareholders," said chairman and managing director Chris Scragg, who holds a 15% stake in the company.
The decision to retain ownership clears the way for the company to proceed with a multi-million pound investment and refurbishment programme.
Work has already begun on a £16m, 120-bedroom new-build hotel in Nottingham that will open in early 2006 to fill a perceived gap in the market for a four-star conference and leisure hotel. It will be built to the same template as the Cambridge Belfry which opened in June.
Marston is also close to clinching a deal for another new-build property in England.
Planned refurbishments include 48 extra bedrooms, a conference centre and a health and leisure club at Crewe Hall in Cheshire; more bedrooms, conference and leisure facilities at Stratford Manor in Warwickshire; and additional bedrooms and leisure facilities at the Oxford Belfry.
by Angela Frewin
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