October 24, 2017 / 8:00 PM / 25 days ago

Sweden's Pandox eyes bid for Jurys Inn hotel chain: sources

LONDON (Reuters) - Swedish hotelier Pandox (PANDXb.ST) is among a group of bidders preparing binding offers for UK-focused hotel chain Jurys Inn in a deal worth about $1 billion, sources familiar with the matter said.

Private equity firm Lone Star, which has owned Jurys Inn since 2015, hired Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) and Eastdil Secured to manage an auction process earlier this year.

Stockholm-listed Pandox, which has a market value of around $1.5 billion, has emerged as one of the suitors for the group of 36 hotels and is looking to make a binding bid ahead of a deadline in November, according to the sources.

The chain is worth about 800 million pounds ($1 billion), one of the sources said.

A spokesman for Pandox declined to comment while Lone Star was not immediately available to comment.

If successful, a deal for Jurys Inn would mark a significant expansion in Britain for Pandox, which bought its first hotel in the country in July for 80 million pounds.

When announcing the purchase of the hotel, at Heathrow Airport, Pandox chief executive Anders Nissan said Britain was a “prioritized market”.

The sale by Lone Star comes as the UK’s hospitality sector braces for the impact of Britain’s vote last year to leave the European Union.

Sterling’s plunge following the vote has boosted interest in “staycations” and made Britain more appealing to foreign visitors. But the vote has also raised concerns that hospitality companies, heavily reliant on EU workers, may face staff shortages.

The Jurys Inn chain, which forms part of Lone Star-owned Amaris Hospitality, is mainly focused on UK city and town centers but also includes properties in Ireland and a site in Prague in the Czech Republic.

Pandox currently has 122 hotels spanning 11 countries, including Norway, Finland and Denmark, which together total about 27,000 rooms.

Lone Star bought Jurys Inn for 680 million pounds in 2015, when the chain consisted of 31 sites.

Editing by Jane Merriman

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