Starwood Capital Group to Sell 14 UK Hotels for $1B

Foncière des Régions will acquire the 2,638-key portfolio, which consists of four- and five-star properties in major cities in England, Scotland and Wales.

By Barbra Murray

The Principal York
The Principal York

Private alternative investment firm Starwood Capital Group just inked a deal to shed 14 upscale hotel properties in the U.K. in a transaction valued at $1.1 billion. The 2,638-key collection, part of the portfolio of The Principal Hotel Co., a controlled affiliate of Starwood, will be sold to Foncière des Régions.

“This landmark transaction represents a major milestone in our remarkable journey with The Principal Hotel Co.,” Cody Bradshaw, managing director & head of European Hotels with Starwood Capital Group, said in a prepared statement. “Five years ago, we embarked on an investment strategy aimed at consolidating more than 50 hotels across four different U.K. hotel companies to form a leading platform. With this sale to Foncière des Régions, we will have realized 35 asset disposals in total since our acquisition.”

The portfolio of four- and five-star hotels to be sold to FdR operates under Principal Hotel Co.’s two brands, Principal and DeVere, and has been enhanced through a total of £182 million (approximately $246.3 million) in upgrades conducted between 2014 and 2018. Nine of the hotels are sited in England, including the 155-key The Principal York, as well as the iconic The Principal London and The Principal Manchester. Another four properties are located in Scotland and a hotel in Wales, The Principal St David’s, rounds out the group.

The transaction is on schedule to close in June 2018. Under the new ownership, the hotels will be rebranded and operated by InterContinental Hotels Group, a move that will make IHG the largest operator of luxury hotels in the U.K.

Still keen on the U.K.

Starwood’s sale of properties from the Principal Hotel Co. portfolio is hardly indicative of a lack of interest in the U.K. hotel market. In 2017, the company expanded its presence in Manchester, England, with the acquisition of the 298-key Holiday Inn Manchester City Centre. And in February of this year, Starwood announced that it had purchased a seven-property portfolio of Hilton hotels totaling 1,300 keys in London, Belfast and other top U.K. hotel markets. Going forward, global competition for assets in the region will remain steep.

“Despite the continued opacity over the outcome of Brexit and the political volatility that will follow, combined with government plans to force overseas investors to pay capital gains tax on commercial property from April 2019, the weight of money continuing to target hotel investment is significant,” according to a first quarter 2018 report by commercial real estate services firm Knight Frank.

Image courtesy of Starwood Capital Group

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