Bass in talks to buy Oz hotels group

THE UK-BASED leisure giant Bass is understood to be in advanced negotiations to acquire SPHC Group, Australia's second-biggest hotel management group, in a deal which would establish the UK company as the top-ranked hotel operator in Australia.

Bass, which runs the Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Inter Continental hotel chains, appears to have pipped France's Accor in the race to buy SPHC's 61 hotels ahead of next September's Sydney 2000 Olympics.

A spokesman for Bass would not comment on the speculation, which comes amid growing talk that the group is pulling out of brewing to focus on its profitable hotels division.

It is believed, however, that the UK company has agreed to buy the SPHC assets, which comprise 28 hotels in Australia and 38 elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region, for about A$315m (pounds 125.9m). The deal is expected to close next month. Accor has admitted bidding A$250m for the hotels, which include the Parkroyal, Centra and Travelodge brands.

Bass has entered exclusive due diligence on the deal and is expected to convert the Australian properties to its Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Inter-Continental brands once the acquisition is complete. About 45 of SPHC's hotels are branded under its Centra and Parkroyal banners and managed under contracts for third-party owners. Eight are owned/leased and managed, while a further eight are in franchise agreements.

Bass currently operates about 100 hotels in the Asia Pacific region, including six in Australia, largely as a result of the group's pounds 1.8bn acquisition of Inter-Continental in March 1998.

Bass has consistently refused to confirm speculation that it is planning to withdraw from the beleaguered brewing sector. But a spokesman said yesterday: "We are not emotionally attached to any of our divisions." At the company's annual results presentation earlier this month Sir Ian Prosser, Bass's chairman, unveiled the group's 2000 investment plans, which were heavily skewed towards the hotels division. Of the total pounds 800m capital expenditure allocation, the hotels unit accounts for pounds 400m. The leisure retail division will receive pounds 300m, with just pounds 100m left for branded drinks.

Bass's total pre-tax profit for the financial year ended 30 September was up 4.8 per cent at pounds 682m on turnover of pounds 4.7m. Operating profit for the hotels division was up 23.5 per cent at pounds 321m while Bass Brewers operating profit rose just 6.7 per cent to pounds 160m.

Bass shares yesterday closed 7.5p lower at 760p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future